Archives for category: Family

a blue a lavender

When I was little there was always a hankie in my pocket.  My mother put them there.  And on the days I got to buy lunch in school she tied 15 cents into the corner.  I remember struggling to get the knot out so I could pay for my lunch.  Another memory from 4th grade was going to the “lavatory” and washing our hankies and taking them back to the classroom to dry them on the radiators.  It didn’t take much to entertain us in those days.

Yesterday Ted and I stopped at a garage sale and on the way in I ran into a friend who knows I love fabric and textiles.  She told me there was a pile of hankies inside, for sale for ten cents each.  I enjoyed going through them and picking out a few to add to my collection.  Some are really beautiful and I marvel at the tiny stitches and the patience it took to create them. Even those made by machine are charming.   It make me sad that they are only valued at “ten cents.”

a pink  a yellow

a tatteda pink print

a red

I also bought some hand crocheted and stitched pillow cases.  I love to sleep on old cotton pillow cases.   They were 25 cents each.   Our house is full of treasures like these.   I love and use old things.

a pillow 2

Pillow cases

a pillow

Life has just shifted for me.  I have taken a job with the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe as the ”Elder and Youth Healthy Relationship Mentoring Program Coordinator.”  That is a hefty title, but what I do is plan activates for elders and youth with the goal of helping them develop relationships that will help both groups in overcoming abuse and abusive situations.  We will be starting with Native crafts, beading, basket making and so forth.  I think it will be interesting and fun and I am enjoying the people I am working with.

I am not sure what this will mean for my blogging.  For now I’ll keep my spot on the internet just blog less often.  I know readership drops off when blogging becomes irregular, so I’ll see if I can keep up!!

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merrily

My grandmother used to tease me, saying I was named for a character in a comic strip.   I remember asking my dad about it and he confirmed, saying there was a cute little girl with brown pigtails that appeared for a short time in a popular strip at the time I was born. It was called Terry and the Pirates.

I have met only a few women who share the name “Merrily.” In talking with them I have learned that we are all about the same age and most were aware that they too had been named after this fictional little girl.

I did some research, but was never able to find pictures of the little girl, she appeared for only a short time in the strip.

Last week there was a new member at our quilt club and I was excited when I was told that her name is “Merrily.” We greeted each other like long lost friends and soon learned that we had been born in the same month two days apart and were both born in Seattle. When we began discussing where our name came from, she told me that her parents had written to the creator of the comic strip, Milton Caniff, shortly after she was born. He was so touched that he wrote a letter back and send a drawing of “Merrily.”

She has it framed and hanging in her home and she sent me a photo of the drawing. So, now I can see the cute little girl that my parents envisioned.

It is very exciting to find this new friend and we share many things in common, it is almost like finding a long lost sister!

The drawing is extra special for me because, the little girl is holds a rag doll with an Asian face. During my career in adoption I helped hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Asian children from Korea, China, and Vietnam join adoptive parents here in the U.S. I traveled extensively in those countries and love being in Asia. That this drawing has a tie to Asia makes it even more special to me. I never did have brown pigtails though, my mom always kept my hair short.

 

all star

 

We were pleased when Seneca and Raven were asked to participate on the Lower Elwha Tribe’s teams at an inter-tribal basketball tournament. Held annually, seven tribes sent teams and the play took place at Squaxin Island near Shelton, over the weekend.

Raven was one of the taller boys in his division and did well especially on defense. He has been playing JV basketball for Stevens Middle School, so was in practice.

raven guardingraven running

It was Seneca though, who amazed us. Lower Elwha is a small tribe and they had only six kids to send, two girls. And since the rules say that there must be two girls on the floor at all times, she played the entire tournament.

runningmore playinstructions

 

They lost the first game in a good fight and Ted and I weren’t there for the second day’s games. However they won both of those games so we went back for the finals.   We were pleased to see how much the team had improved after having played a few games together.   And Seneca had become a little fighter, with a very strong defense. They won the first game and then went on to play the very team they had played the first round.

They led from the beginning with Seneca getting rebound after rebound and passing the ball to the boys who were better shooters.

the winning team

And so the Lower Elwha’s won the championship for their age group.

And to top it off, Seneca was given the “All Star” award, given to only one girl and one boy player.

happy seneca

We are grateful to the Lower Elwha Tribe for making this opportunity possible and we are very proud of Seneca. And Raven too!!

 

Niyama with her quilt

Nyima (Andrea) with a baby quilt she hand stitched in India. A quilter will know how complicated it would be to set this many small blocks in a quilt like this.

sewing label

She stitches a label in a quilt

When I asked my friend Nyima for some words of wisdom for living a good life, she replied:

Have courage.

See the humor

Be useful.

Be kind.

Nyima Lhamo  is a Buddhist nun living simple life in Mongoo, a village high in the Himalayan mountains near Darjeeling in India. Until 12 years ago she was Andrea Balosky, quilter and good friend living at Camp Sherman near Sisters, Oregon. While there she made the decision to begin to learn about Tibetan Buddhism and she needed to be closer to those who practiced it to do that, she sold everything and moved to India. She says she has never looked back. Recently she was in the U.S. to attend to her visa and she stayed with our family last week. We spent the time talking about life in the remote mountains, and about our kids, and about quilting.

andrea with anna

Andrea plays with our little foster daughter

Andrea Balosky was a well-known quilter, and is the author of the book “Transitions.”   This is my “go to” book I need an inspiration for a new quilt. I met her when I was looking for someone to hand quilt a Hawaiian quilt top I had purchased. Andrea was born in Hawaii and her first quilt was in the Hawaiian style, done for her mother. She said she loved to hand quilt while watching sports on TV on the long snowy evenings in Camp Sherman. She estimated would take her until Christmas to finish, and actually it took her a couple of years but the result is spectacular.

andrea with hawaiian quilt

Andres stands behind the Hawaiian quilt she hand quilted for Ted and me.

hand quilting

An example of Andrea’s fine quilting.

She is famous for her small quilts, which she calls “doll quilts” and an exhibit of 100 of them was displayed at the Latimer Quilt Museum in Tillamook Oregon.

quilt show

Latimer Quilt Museum display

dolls and  quilts

The museum displayed my dolls with Andrea’s quilts

doll quilt

One of the Small Wonders collection

When she left the U.S. she sold her collection of small quilts and Ted and I purchased this charming collection. They can be seen in this book, “Small Wonders.”   We don’t receive income from the sale of the book, only have satisfaction of sharing them. She doesn’t quilt much now, she doesn’t have access to good fabric or batting in India, but in preparation for her trip, she made 50 small potholders which will be sold by the Pine Needler quilt group in Camp Sherman to raise money to purchase a defibulator. And she made one for me! pot holder

And her additional words of wisdom, for me were:
Learn what is enough.
Learn what is essential

Oh my. What am I doing with all of the “stuff” in this house?

And her final word—

“Do the difficult while it is easy.” — Lao Tzu

Andrea with Merrily

Friends

jerry's garden

“Cross Currents #2” by Andrea and now belonging to Bill Volkening

salute to the Sun
“Salute to the Sun” a small quilt done by hand in India for the Alzheimer’s Quilt Project.[/caption]

Some of the photos in this blog are by  William Volkening

This and that, I have a few different things I’d like to say.

I am taking a class on blogging this week and expect to be able to do new and wonderful things with blogging very soon. So stay with me.

I have finished some quilts recently, and am sharing the photos. In the class next week I hope to learn about lining up photos, but meanwhile, just keep  scrolling down.

asia close

Asian Circles up close, I hand quilted this one.

asian circles - Copy

strip stripe (2)

Strippy Stripes

stripes

strpes close

tiffany's quilt

apples - Copy

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Apples to Apples

pinwheels

Pinwheels

My younger brother Jack is visiting from Thailand this week. He has lived on Phuket Island for 12 years and considers Thailand his home. He comes to visit once a year and it is always fun to visit with him and my sister who lives South of Seattle. Jack especially enjoys bring up obscure memories about things that happened in our neighborhood when we were growing up.   I am beginning to think he makes  some of them up. In two years he will turn 70 and he is planning a party and we are invited. We are planning to go, Ted Seneca Raven and me. I have been there three or four times and it is a wonderful place to visit.

My brother Jack

My brother Jack

We have been promised our renewed foster home license. We completed the 36 hours of required training, plus an all-day first aid class. We got the currently required immunizations for us and the kids AND the pets. We put a fence across the lake in front of the house to meet current safety standards.

gate

Gate to our new foster kid fence

fence

Ted and rolls of fencing

However we were told that the bedroom Raven uses was not suitable for foster children.

This room is on the second floor, is large with a vaulted ceiling and has lots of windows and is a great room for kids. However we were told it couldn’t be used because it contained a washer and dryer. A check of the Washington Administrative Code revealed nothing that would prohibit the use of a bedroom with a washer and dryer in it, and so the battle began.   For seven months we went back and forth, until Ted finally contacted our State Legislator, Steve Tharinger and his office made some calls. This week Ted got a call saying that we have been approved to have children in that room, since doing laundry there does not pose a health or safety hazard and we have been using it for the past six years. Dealing with challenging children is nothing compared to dealing with the government.

The thing that is so puzzling is that they are crying for foster homes.   This weekend we are caring for an extra teen age girl on an emergency basis and since Friday I have gotten three calls asking us to take another child, (yesterday a two year old girl) yet they make it so difficult to become foster home licensed—doesn’t make sense.

We have recently lost two good friends. Husband and wife, both deaths unexpected and sudden. It makes us appreciate all we have.

“Go for it” said Ted, and I knew he was right, the family could get along without me very nicely for five days.   Right?

beautiful spot - Copy - Copy

St. Andrews on Hood Canal

 

A chance to sew all day, get to know some new people and relax in a beautiful setting was too much to pass up.

Set at the foot of Hood Canal, the setting is magical. The log “mansion” called St. Andrew’s was built by a wealthy Seattle family who came here for the summer in the 1920’s and it was fun to think about that family with kids running up and down the stairs to the balcony and sitting in front of the fireplace. It was tempting to walk on the beach, but I was focused on sewing.

I decided to start in something new, fresh fabric from my stash and a new but simple pattern, something I could finish in a couple of days. Ted helped me cut the fabric before I left so when I got there I was ready to sew.

apples full

Apple quilt

 

apples up close

Apple quilt up close

 

I drew the lucky seat, the best view for sewing. There were beautiful views in every direction, however.

view from my seat

View from my sewing table

 

quilting room

The quilting room, this had been added to the original house.

 

The cook was amazing. He is a priest whose mission is to feed folks local, healthy and nutritious food, and that he did. Vegetables, herbs, cheese, ice cream, yoghurt, meat, and seafood were all grown or produced locally. He created his own salsa, granola, and special herb tea which he served cold. We feasted at every meal.

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Lining up for a wonderful meal

 

Our room was tucked under the rafters, set up with bunk beds, though there were only two of us so no one had to climb. Each bed was made with a homemade quilt, made by a previous quilter.

For fun, I made a cloth paper doll for each of the 13 other women attending and we had fun choosing outfits for each of them. Then they got creative and began making quilts for their dollies.

paper doll 4

Playing with paperdolls, this one was doing a dance

 

pd on sewing machine

This paper doll now decorates a sewing machine

 

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Brenda with her paper doll

I am an early riser and I enjoyed sitting by the fireplace and doing some hand sewing as folks assembled each morning.

morniing quilting - Copy

Early morning quilter

 

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A view of the fireplace

 

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An experiment

Many beautiful quilts were sewed during the week.

Each of us also made a “Joy Quilt” a small quilt to be wrapped around a stuffed animal and given to a child in a time of crisis. Some of our foster children have arrived with animals wrapped in “joy quilts” so this was a project I was committed to doing!

Joy quilts - Copy

Some of the cheerful joy quilts.

 

anna with joy quilt

A foster child received a stuffed elephant wrapped in a joy quilt.

 

The joy of sharing with other women, creating beautiful things while being fed tasty and healthy food, in a beautiful setting, it can hardly get better than that!

 

Thea sweat shirt

Here are Thea and Knox. Thea is our 16 year old granddaughter and Knox is now a Seeing Eye dog through Guide Dogs for the Blind.  Thea volunteered to raise Knox from puppyhood until he was ready to be trained.

First she had to participate in a training program with is offered in her school.   She learned that puppy trainers provide love and socialization to the puppies. Each year Guide Dogs for the Blind dog produces about 900 puppies which are placed with caretakers in the Western States.   The puppies are born so that in June they have reached the age where they are ready to leave their mothers. Knox arrived at the Holcomb household ready to learn and the first thing he was taught was to relieve himself on demand. This is an important skill for a guide dog. Knox went to school with Thea in the fall, wearing his little harness. Thea met with other classmates and their dogs several times a week as training progressed.

Guide Dogs for the Blind is a non-profit organization based in California. About 500 of the 900 dogs raised each year will actually be found suitable to work as guide dogs. Other dogs will be trained in other services or will become pets.

Knox was an eager learner and his training progressed very well. Thea loved him, but knew that at the end of the year she would be faced with parting with him so that he could go on to actual guide dog training in California and eventually be assigned to a blind or visually impaired person.

It was a sad and happy day when Knox was put back on the puppy truck for his return. Thea said, “It was exciting to realize he would go to do something fantastic that would change someone’s life.”   Four months later he had received his training and it was time for him to graduate and to meet the person spend he would spend his life serving. Thea and her mother and sister flew to California for the graduation. After the ceremony they met this person, a visually impaired woman from Arizona.   She felt especially lucky to meet Thea and to thank her.

They went for a walk together and Thea was pleased to see Knox behave perfectly when guiding her across the street. Knox, of course, recognized Thea and was excited to see her but knew his duty was to assist his new partner.

thea capitol

Odette, the dog Thea is training now

Thea is considering a career in guide dog training. It requires a college degree and a three year apprenticeship. Was this a good experience?   Yes, it was, Thea and her family are now involved with training a second dog, Odette!

 

ted ping

Ten Ping, a tiny favorite

 

dolls

Dolls on display from our shop, Apple Tree Dolls and Bears

 

girls in booth

Young customers

 

My doll club held its annual doll show last weekend and Seneca enjoyed herself as usual. The doll show is the  place she can get new outfits for her dolls and she brought her American Girl doll along for fittings. She was right in line to have herdoll’s hair styled by one of our members.

 

diana

She helped with our little foster girl who was gifted with a doll and another toy by some kind dealers.

seneca and anna

Seneca with our foster daughter, playing with new dolls

 

Seneca found a special doll she wanted and luckily she had enough money left from her birthday to make the purchase. On the way home she hugged her new doll along with her old favorite. I love it that she loves dolls!
new doll

A few weeks ago Seneca was talking about wanting to work on a cruise ship someday. She asked me if you must go to college to do such work. I suggested that she write to the cruise people and ask them. A few hours later she had created a very sweet letter to her favorite cruise line, Holland America, asking her question and throwing in a few details.  She mentioned that she has been  on four of their cruises and that she had a birthday coming.

holland america

Two weeks later a FedEx box came for Seneca and inside was a model of a Holland America ship along with a letter. She was advised to go to college if she could, and to apply on-line when she was ready to go to work. She was also wished a Happy Birthday. Nice to have a company with a heart, and the letter certainly created a lot of excitement at our house.

beach bucket of clamst

Razor clam dig this weekend! Clams are protected and there are only a few days during the year when digging is allowed. We try to be here at Ocean Shores for these dates, we love razor clams! Ted and I are both from this area and have memories of digging clams as kids, dragging gunny sacks of clams across the beach behind our parents who generally did the digging. Diggers are now limited to 15 clams each. But we find that 25 or 30 clams is enough for our family to eat fresh, the best way to enjoy them.

bech ted digs

The digging time depends on when the tide is low and that is often in the evening. Clams are only dug during the cold months, which often means digging at night by the light of  Coleman lanterns. However, this weekend the low tide is late in the afternoon, which makes digging much nicer.

beach two diggers

The weather was about as good as it gets, cloudy but with no wind and no rain. Beach is spectacular in gray and silver with the sun reflecting off of the sand. The beach is nearly empty as our diggers walk down to the shore to dig. The digging process itself is wet and sandy, and unexpected waves often roll in to fill boots and shoes with water. It is all good fun though and within a half hour or 45 minutes we have enough.

All who dig are required to help clean the clams. It is a process that takes awhile as all sand must be removed.   They are fried immediately.

beach reacy to eat

This is one of the special treats we get to enjoy as a part of living this area and we are grateful!

beach sen and tif eating

 

granny

It is hard to find a good photo of Gramma, she liked to hide from the camera

My grandmother had many tips and quips about life and she loved to share them. Though she has been gone for more than 25 years, her words of wisdom come back to me.

Many of her “rules” came from her basic philosophy and had to do with what she believed and how she lived her life. She told me many times, that there are three important things that one should always have, even if finances are tight.

She believed that everyone should have good bedding. Quality bedding, sheets pulled tight and bed made every morning, were things I learned from her.

She believed that everyone should have plenty of good quality underwear. Our underwear generally comes from Penney’s but when it sags or tears, out it goes.

The third things she insisted was important was that we not eat from cracked or chipped dishes.   With a houseful of children we often chip dishes. But we couldn’t toss a whole set when a few became chipped.

P1000213

Yes, some of the dishes were in very bad shape.

Recently we realized that many of our dishes were chipped in more than one spot and they needed replacing. However, the dish sets we found all contained cups and saucers as part of the set. We use coffee mugs rather than cups and saucers and didn’t want buy them when we wouldn’t need them. Finally we found an attractive set that came with only plates in two sizes, and bowls. They were so reasonably priced that we bought six sets. We will have plenty of replacement parts.

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While going through the cupboard we sorted out the many many little dishes that had been collecting.l

Gramma was right, it does feel good to look at a nicely set table with no chipped dishes. And there is an great sense of satisfaction that paying attention to these three principles brings me.

New dishes neatly stacked.

New dishes neatly stacked!