Sunday, May 31, 2009

Just a quick bit of BSP (Blatant Self-Promotion)

In case you didn't notice, I'm guestblogging at Meanderings and Muses today. North Carolinians, and alumni of Ludwigsburg American HS and Roger Ludlowe HS may especially want to read it.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Friday Five: The Big To-Do

Lucky for me that Kathrynzj at RevGalBlogPals posted her Friday Five nice and early, as the weather may at last be a little more cooperative with us Census Bureau canvassers today. Fortunately I got one or two things checked off a to-do list on the rainy days. Anyway, Kathryn says:

"Greetings from the land of the Big To-Do!It seems like every year I enter into the summer with a growing list of HUGE projects/events/trips that seem to have a permanent place on the 'to do' list.This year I have a huge move pending so that takes up an entire list all on its own, but it doesn't take a big event like that for me to make plans bigger than my summer can hold!How about you?Is this the third summer in a row you have made a pledge involving your garage and actually getting a car into it?Did you once again miss the registration deadline for the continuing education event of your dreams ?Are you starting to think you couldn't even find the tents, let alone get it together to pull off a camping trip?Here is your chance to get it out into the open and OWN your Big To-Do! Who knows? Maybe making the list will help you move the Big To-Do to the Big Ta-Da!

1) What home fix-it project is on your Big To-Do?

Inspired by my friend The CEO, who spent part of our beach week choosing a new paint color for the beach house interior, I'd like to paint a room in some color other than white! Probably the dining room/sunroom (they are one and the same) -- it needs it, and also it has less furniture than most of the other rooms so it will be an easier project. I'm thinking a pale yellow.

2) What event (fun or work) is on your Big To-Do?

Finishing our work with the address canvassing for the Census Bureau is certainly on there, and I also have a paid genealogy project to work on. For fun? Onkel Hankie Pants is in two plays this summer, and I'll be attending those; meeting my new twin grandnieces is also on the agenda.
3) What trip is on your Big To-Do?

Even though I do this every year, our annual trip to West Denmark Family Camp in Wisconsin is a big item on my agenda. This year will be extra-special as Cordeliaknits and her partner will be there, Sisterfilms and some friends will be singing and playing one of the evenings, and (great trepidation here), I'm assisting Sisterfilms with the children's crafts on the first day of camp. My major part is to read the stories, she's coming up with the crafts but I will help out during that portion of the two-hour crafts time as well. The photos accompanying this post are from past Family Camps. They illustrate singing, skits, and sitting under the trees -- three of the many fun activities we do, interspersed with morning coffee, noon dinner, afternoon coffee, supper, and evening coffee. There's also folk dancing, talks and discussions, and of course crafts.

4) What do you wish was on someone ELSE's (partner, family member, celebrity, etc...) Big To-Do?

I'm wishing for Cordeliaknits to find a call, preferably in a more progressive state than California -- say Iowa or, even better, one of the New England states.

5) Getting inspired? What may end this summer having moved from the Big To-Do to the Big Ta-da?

Well, #s 2 and 3 will certainly get done. I just remembered a further house project for which summer is a good time: completing the sorting, repairing and shelving of a number of books down in the nice cool basement (and also some in the not-as-cool guest room and library on the second floor -- but then, that room gets nice breezes off the river.)

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Whatever happened to handkerchiefs?

In the process of switching the winter clothes upstairs and the summer clothes downstairs, I found that some of my handkerchiefs were in need of ironing. That was a quick project, and scattered through this post you will see some of the results. (The Christmas hankies are just going to wait till around November.)

I realize that I may be a bit of an oddity in that I don't exactly "collect" handkerchiefs -- I actually use them. I do usually have a box of tissues in the house, but I don't normally carry them around unless I have a really horrible cold. Otherwise, handkerchiefs do the job just fine. Also, they are not only reusable almost infinitely, but they do not do awful things if one forgets them in a pocket before doing the laundry.

You can't necessarily see it in these pictures, but some of my handkerchiefs are a little the worse for wear. In fact, some probably ought to be thrown out or perhaps made into some kind of craft project, they are so tattered. That isn't surprising, since most of them are 50-60 years old. Nearly all my handkerchiefs were acquired at my old church's annual Rummage Sale, during the years when the church ladies who were then in their 70s and 80s were clearing out their homes in preparation for moves to smaller quarters. One of them told me that when they were young women in the 1940s and 50s, handkerchiefs were a common gift for occasions such as the Women's Federation Christmas party, or were brought back as souvenirs for friends when one had taken a trip. I'm sure some of these were also gifts from children, as I can remember buying handkerchiefs for my mother at Woolworth's (when I wasn't getting rosewater-and-glycerin lotion). For several years I bought all the handkerchiefs I could find at the sale.

Just before starting this post, I checked out "ladies' handkerchiefs" on the Internet. Uh-oh! New ones might cost $37.50 apiece at one place; vintage printed handkerchiefs seem to start around $7.00 apiece and go up from there. That's a little rich for my blood. Still, my new church is having its annual "Clothing and Linens" sale soon -- maybe there will be some hankies there at a more reasonable price. I hope so. I don't want to give them up. They remind me of all those elders who were so welcoming to me and provided so much love and wisdom over the years; and of a simpler time in my childhood when the teacher checked each morning to see that we had clean hands, clean teeth, and a clean handkerchief.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Mary Beth at RevGalBlogPals says:

I'm showing my age...this was an anthem of my high school years. Wanna hear it?Give this link a try.
While you're bopping along to

that (or perhaps holding your ears...?), let's think about VACATIONS! I certainly am!"

Well, this certainly shows that Mary Beth is younger than I am, I was more about "Here Comes the Sun" or something similar. But here goes:

1) What did your family do for vacations when you were a child? Or did you have stay-cations at home?

We spent most vacations visiting family in Maine -- my mother's family in Bowdoinham, some of whom had farms and even if they didn't, the places felt farm-like; and my father's family in Harpswell (lobster, boats, etc.) and Durham (more farming). I can't think of a nicer vacation to this day. But also, the times in between my father's various changes of station (he was in the Army) were sort of like vacations -- I especially remember the drive from Texas to Maine via northern Ohio (where my aunt lived) in 1955 and later the same year, when we joined my father in Germany, the weekend at an inn in Bad Schwalbach.

2) Tell us about your favorite vacation ever:

When Onkel Hankie Pants got out of the Army, he came to Berlin to spend the summer with me. Just before he had to go back to Minnesota to start work, we took time to visit his cousin in Munich, where we were royally entertained and saw all the sights, and then took a train and a Rhine River cruise as far as Coblenz. Many wonderful memories from that time. Here's a picture of us with the cousins.

3) What do you do for a one-day or afternoon there a place nearby that you escape to on a Saturday afternoon/other day off?

I sure like boat rides, and there are a number of them available as I've probably mentioned before -- ferries to the islands in Casco Bay are very reasonable.

4) What's your best recommendation for a full-on vacation near you...what would you suggest to someone coming to your area? (Near - may be defined any way you wish!)

If you can really afford a full-on vacation, I'd rent one of the cottages on the Maine coast near here. You'd have to do your own cooking or go to one of the many fine restaurants nearby -- keep the cooking simple, just get lobster or clams or whatever. Farmer's markets abound for fresh vegetables and other meats, baked goods etc. I myself would just sit on the deck or porch and look at the water, but some people might like to sail or kayak. And for culture, there's plenty of great summer stock, community theatre, music festivals, and museums. Come to Maine!

5) What's your DREAM VACATION?

I'd like to rent or exchange for a house in an English village not too far from London -- it would have to be a long vacation like a year! I'd like to explore the UK, hunt ancestors, see places where favorite writers lived, and just do ordinary things in a different place.

Bonus: Any particularly awful (edited to add: or hilarious) vacation stories that you just have to tell? ("We'll laugh about this later..." maybe that time is now!) I really can't think of any -- I tend to go with the flow so I generally laugh during the vacation, even if things go a little awry.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Friday Five: Friends

Jan, who I think is new at the Friday Five thing as she's not listed in the sidebar at RevGalBlogPals yet, came up with a terrific question for what may be her first outing:

"Ever since I found out I could be the hostess for the third Friday Five of each month, I have not been able to get the thought of friends out of my mind. Being an only child (all growed up) who moved around a lot in my lifetime, friends have always been very important to me. As Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote: "The way to have a friend is to be a friend."

So today let's write about the different kinds of friends we have, like childhood friends, lost friends, tennis friends, work friends, and the list goes on. List 5 different types of friends you have had in your life and what they were/are like."

As a bonus, put a link to a new (to you) blogging friend and introduce us!

Well, first of all, I'm afraid I have no tennis friends, golf friends, running friends, or soccer friends. I have or have had friends who did all those things. but not with me. Second, a peripatetic life in my first 28 years and a tendency to procrastinate (oh heck, and I'm lazy too), means that thinking about different friends engenders a certain amount of guilt, you'll see why.
Here goes though.

1. Oldest Friends: These are the ones who form a group in my email address book, the ones I get together with each year (just last week! had a great time!), the friends who, in 8th grade which is a time generally associated with cliquishness and general nastiness where schoolgirls are concerned, showed none of that and took me in so that I could join a friendship that in some cases had begun before kindergarten. We've gone through a lot together.

2. Book Club Friends: These are the ones I miss the most from City of Lakes -- my small women's book club and my larger group from church, both of which I started meeting with over 20 years ago. We've had fascinating literary and spiritual discussions, lots of laughter, shared good food, gone on retreats together, introduced each other to books we might not otherwise have read, and also supported each other in illness, loss and other troubles. I guess I really need to find or form a new book club here.

3. School and College Friends: Since I went to three different high schools, I made some new friends in the two I attended after leaving the friends in #1. I'm still in touch with some of them through Facebook and because of moving back to the site of my third high school. I am glad to have had them in my life -- it would have been pretty bleak without them! I'm sad that I've lost touch with my first two college roommates, I hear from the third once a year or so, and Google has shown me that one of my flatmates has a gallery in southern Maine; and then there's Rick, the syndicated columnist in my Blogroll. But most of the people I knew in college I've lost touch with.

4. Friends I've Made through My Children: What a large and diverse group! Babysitting coop moms, playmates' mothers and fathers, fellow school volunteers, and later, even better, friends of my children who've become friends to me too (though not generally as close as they are to the original friend). Just another way my children have enriched and continue to enrich my life.

5. Internet Friends: I first started making Internet friends through genealogy. Of course, most of those turned out to be cousins of some degree! I'll always remember the guy who wrote, after we'd discovered the fourth or fifth family line where our ancestries intersected, " If this keeps up, we'll discover we were married twenty years ago." Heeheehee! Then came DorothyL, a listserv for readers, writers, publishers and sellers of mystery stories. RevGalBlogPals has immeasurably added to my list of friends, and Facebook is a way to find the missing friends and keep up on a daily basis with some of the other Internet friends. Goodreads is a website for posting book reviews, and although most of my Goodreads friends are people I know from some other category, where else would I have become a friend of a young woman from India with a Portuguese name who likes a lot of the same books I do? My grandmother was a great one for pen pals and writers' round robins (they would send their poems out and each recipient would comment) and my, she would have loved the Internet!

BONUS QUESTION: Well, I've got to introduce you to Kaye Barley, and not just because I'll be guest blogging at her place on June 1. I "met" Kaye through DorothyL, and hope to meet her in person some fine day. She lives in North Carolina with her husband Donald and their dog Harley Doodle Barley, the cutest Welsh Corgi you'd ever want to see. She is a sort of social facilitator for DorothyL -- even collects and publishes a photo page so we can see what each other look like -- and an insightful reader, plus she takes some great photographs. Go to to meet her.

And for an extra bonus, Carole King and James Taylor singing "You've Got a Friend" last year. Like me and my friends, they're older, they sing the song a little differently and maybe even stumble a little on the words or the chords, but it's still the same song of friendship.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Friday Five: Celebrating the Seasons of Life

Another advert for a TV programme that has caught my eye on the UK's Channel 4 this weekend is called Love, Life and leaving; and is a look at the importance of celebrating the seasons of life through ritual and in the public eye, hence marriages, baptisms and funerals.
Over at RevGalBlogPals, Sally from the United Kingdom reminds us:

"It is the first of May, or as I have been concentrating on dialogue with folk interested in the new spirituality movement this last week, it is Beltane, a time to celebrate the beginning of summer. The BBC web-site tells us that:

Beltane is a Celtic word which means 'fires of Bel' (Bel was a Celtic deity). It is a fire festival that celebrates of the coming of summer and the fertility of the coming year.
Celtic festivals often tied in with the needs of the community. In spring time, at the beginning of the farming calendar, everybody would be hoping for a fruitful year for their families and fields.
Beltane rituals would often include courting: for example, young men and women collecting blossoms in the woods and lighting fires in the evening. These rituals would often lead to matches and marriages, either immediately in the coming summer or autumn.

I believe that we live in a ritually impoverished culture, where we have few reasons for real celebration, and marking the passages of life;


1. Are ritual markings of birth, marriage, and death important to you?
Yes, very much so. Birth -- I have no grandchildren as yet, but now a round dozen of grandnieces and -nephews. Most have not had, and probably won't have, any sort of religious ritual for welcoming them to this earth and family. The baby shower or Welcome Aboard party has substituted for that but the emphasis seems to get displaced to the presents at these events. Maybe I should come up with something?
Marriage -- well, I'm waiting for the day when Cordeliaknits and Leslie can have a real wedding -- maybe not so far off and possibly even here in Maine!
Death -- the best funerals I have been to were both sad and hopeful occasions. I don't really understand what seems to be a trend where I live, there are a number of obituaries that say "At the request of the deceased, there will be no funeral services." Nothing. I think this must be very hard for the family and friends.

2. Share a favourite liturgy/ practice.
I've been to a lot of Lutheran funerals, given where I used to live and the person and family I've chosen to share my life with, and the Commendation section at the end seems just about perfect to me. I don't have "the green book" nearby at the moment but the words include "a lamb of your own flock, a sinner of your own redeeming."

3. If you could invent ( or have invented) a ritual what is it for?
As I mentioned in #1, a ritual for welcoming a baby when the parents either are not religious or have a faith different from the family at large.

4. What do you think of making connections with neo-pagan / ancient festivals? Have you done this and how?
My daughters used to celebrate the Winter Solstice a bit, and of course there's Hallowe'en. But I would probably enjoy more of this, though I'm not going to be worshipping Bel today.

5. Celebrating is important, what and where would your ideal celebration be?
I like family reunions, whether holiday-centered or otherwise. So my ideal celebration would have to be at least four celebrations, four family reunions for my father's and mother's side and my husband's father's and mother's side. Probably it would be best not to have them one right after the other, though!

I'm off to South Carolina this morning (with a stop in Atlanta first) to reconnect with my oldest friends, an annual celebration. We might not think we have rituals, but cooking together, watching sunsets, the annual bookstore trip ... maybe we do!