Tuesday, August 28, 2007

A Reason to Celebrate

This is post number 272. While not one of those milestone numbers, it is significant. That's how many times I have born witness, contemplated, participated, and written about the world around me, however small.

Even more reason, is my youngest daughter. She entered a photo into the Maryland State Fair and one a First Place ribbon. Wow! She was quite subtle in her pleasure but was pleased, none the less. It's quite a thing to be 15, see your photo with a ribbon on it among hundreds of photos. Kudos to you Audrey.

And, oldest daughter, started classes and auditioned for the Chamber Singers at Towson University. She had call backs and made the group. Woohoo!

And after some worry about a cough, the Handsome One is on some antibiotics and cough medicine and feeling much better.

While celebration was in order, it wasn't in the calendar. Instead, it just brought joy, which is good enough.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Grandma's Hands

My Handsome Prince, His sisters, and his Granma on her 90th birthday, April 2007

Grandma's hands Clapped in church on Sunday morning
Grandma's hands Played a tambourine so well
Grandma's hands Used to issue out a warning
She'd say, "Billy don't you run so fast Might fall on a piece of glass "Might be snakes there in that grass"

Grandma's hands Soothed a local unwed mother
Grandma's hands Used to ache sometimes and swell
Grandma's hands Used to lift her face and tell her, "Baby, Grandma understands That you really love that man Put yourself in Jesus hands"
Grandma's hands Used to hand me piece of candy
Grandma's hands Picked me up each time I fell
Grandma's hands Boy, they really came in handy
She'd say, "Matty don' you whip that boy What you want to spank him for? He didn' drop no apple core"
But I don't have Grandma anymore
If I get to Heaven I'll look for Grandma's hands
Bill Withers

This song played on my ipod when we were leaving the funeral.

Yesterday we attended the funeral for Eulala M. Grapes, Wife, Mother, Grandmother, Great Grandmother, Great Great Grandmother. This is My Handsome Prince's Grandmother. Ellen, her daughter wrote a song about her, a few years back, it makes me cry every time she sings it. Elizabeth, her Granddaughter, wrote a poem for this funeral. I wish I had the words to both but since I don't I felt this song brought out the power of a Grandma and kismet that is was playing as we drove home from West Virginia.

Now we are both left with only one Grandparent alive. I called my Grandma today. She has taken up to writing poetry. She recited 2 poems to me, one about my cousin, her Granddaughter and one about life's tough questions. What is amazing is that my Grandma doesn't see well enough to write. Just well enough to recognize people and observe what happens around her. After 90 some odd years, she is experiencing the world in a totally new way and thinking about it and then creating from it. She recites her poems in her head and when they are "just right" she recites them over the phone to a friend. To me that is amazing and an inspiration.

My Handsome Prince's Granfather, Shorty, Eulala's husband of 72 years has been left behind. He still runs an antique auto parts business, has to be scolded to not climb on a pile of logs with a chainsaw, and plays scrabble every night.

Aren't we lucky to have had these influences in our young lives and now providing inspiration to keep learning, keep seeking, keep moving?

One of the things read yesterday was a poem written by MHP's sister. Among many things she called Eulala:
a whistler of tunes
a crackadoodler
a wearer of teal
an admirer of curly hair

I can feel her hands on my hair, telling me how beautiful it was, as I sat on the floor in front of her. I can hear her through My Handsome Prince's whistling and now Audrey's whistling, something I have never been able to do. I see my sister in law, a lover of teal, and see her. And of course we giggle about crackadoodles (passing gas, farts, fluffs). She was carried off in a white casket, for she loved things to be pristine, by her Grandsons and Great Grandsons. At one point the youngest Great Grandson, about 3 or 4, said somewhat loudly "I'm hot". It was perfect. The next generation and again the circle being unbroken. Rejoice in the long life lived and the life yet to be lived.

Ozomatli performs the

I lost my video from the previous post talking about Ozomatli at Sonar. I know you don't need another Ozo video or post. But they are keeping me hyped for days. This is just what we participated in at Sonar in April or May and again the other night at Pier 6. Too much fun!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Milk was bad Choice

Whenever it is real hot, this is what the girls say. After a few cool days, the heat is back. Yesterday, while shopping, Emma says "It's so damn hot" and all three of us responded "Milk was a bad choice". This is how we feel today

Ozomatli Street Signs live

Ozomatli, ya se fue, ya se fue!

When Ozomatli finishes their set, they start the crowd singing "Ozomatli, ya se fue, ya se fue!" meaning Ozomatli have left. They climb off the stage with drums, sticks, whistles, and find a spot in the crowd to continue the party. Once again, they found us, I'm convinced they saw a bunch of us singing and making room for them. I stood in between two of them while they jammed then broke out into the hokey pokey. When they started their conga line, Li'l Sis and I were right behind them, walking in the aisles while people squeezed against their seats to make room for us, looking at us like what are those girls doing? They stopped again in the crowd for a bit, then made their way out into the vending area. There were only about 20 of us that followed. It's incredible! When they were done, again, we shook their hands and thanked them for a great show. One of the guys said they were just the opening band, but for me they were headlining. They have such energy, such positive vibes, so gracious with the fans, and they obviously have a great time. At one point they came into the crowd looking for a child, brought him on stage, handed him a tambourine, introduced him as the next generation, and the kid played an entire song with them. So true. They formed through a community center in LA, holding weekly Friday and Saturday night fund raisers. The center focused on arts for the inner city youth, skateboarding, break dancing, graffiti. Now they are Grammy award winners with music focusing on diversity, justice, creativity, politics. One of them was asked at the end of a podcast, what advise do you have to give? His response was "Do good things everyday." I will see them again and again and again.

It was a great evening with my sister. It was a funny evening. Lot's of beer, young crowd, hot, the smell of marijuana permeating my clothes, uptight couple with bad karma so much so that they constantly got beer sloshed on them and my sister accidentally whacked him on the head while dancing, young cocky boys trying to get us women to dance/grind with them (imagine the Italian head slap "What are you thinking? I have children your age!" whap!), older guy grooving the whole time, G Love full of himself, and the two of us, full of ourselves, laughing, dancing, singing, never sitting, contemplating another club (foiled by a phone call). We vowed next time we'll stay out all night and get a room. When I got home at a very late hour, My Handsome Prince, sleeping asked "Did you have a good time?" I just laughed and said "Oh, yeah".

I received a phone call this morning, all it said was "Ozomatli, ya se fue, ya se fue." Dang I wish they didn't leave.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Ozomatli's in the House, You should know that by now

We were in a party like this at Sonar in Baltimore. The guys in the band were leaning into us and we were singing, laughing, following them, meeting them afterwards, thanking them for a great show, them thanking us for being a great crowd. Can't wait for tonight.

Just me and Li'l Sis.

I lost this video so have posted one above. FYI

Thursday, August 23, 2007


Me making tortillas.

Audrey has a friend in school whose parents are Mexican and Guatemalan. We've met them a couple times, conversed with them, made driving arrangements, all the things you do when your children are friends. We took it a step further when I asked the Mom if she cooked American or Mexican and I expressed an interest in learning to cook authentic Mexican food. No Old El Paso for me! She was very excited about this! We basically invited ourselves over on Sunday and oh! are we glad we did! We arrived bearing two bottles of wine and a small hostess gift of a knitted dishcloth (done by yours truly) and a tea towel with yo yo's long the bottom edge (also done by yours truly). We feasted on civechi on tostadas, fresh tortillas with queso fresco, fresh salsa, frijoles con chorizo, red rice (that's what their youngest daughter called it), and chicken on the grill. It was not quite the cooking lesson I expected as she had done the cooking. I did learn to make my own tortillas and didn't do so bad. I learned her recipe for civechi. The conversation was easy, the food excellent, the hospitality most generous. We were sent home with a jar of salsa, canned peppers, civechi, tostadas, and their youngest put together goody bags of tamarind candy. Once home, My Handsome Prince promptly ordered my a cast iron tortilla maker. The next day the husband/father called to thank us for coming to his home. We are making plans to get together again. So much to learn from other cultures, not only about them, but about your own.
My tortilla maker came yesterday. Guess what I did today? I made huevos con chorizo, 4 tortillas, queso fresca, fresh tomatoes. Mmmmmmm. I also called them to tell them what I did. He laughed. I think it pleased them, I know it did me.
The makings for a delicious lunch.

Huevos con chorizo, fresh tomatoes, and hot tortillas wrapped in foil.
Yummy fruit from the fruit trees of friends from church. That will be my snack.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

A Perfect Friday Night

Audrey and I arrived at Li'l Sister's house around 1:30. We were getting together to cook and can. She had red peppers that we roasted, tomatoes that we sauced, and loads of basil we turned into pesto. While we did not come away with enough to last the winter, more likely the week, we had an afternoon of laughter, cooking, good smells, kids in and out, a party in the basement (it was the debut of "High School Musical 2"). Emma came out to join the party. Nothing is better than good food, laughter, good wine, the noise of happy kids. I came home with the feeling that it was a perfect evening, that warm fuzzy feeling (no it was not the wine), a sense of pure contentment.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Life in the Fast Lane

Well, we are right back in the swing of things. I've taught 7 classes in two days, My Handsome Prince went back to work yesterday after many weeks off, we moved Emma into her apartment, and again move Emma into her apartment - it seems a never ending process. We finalize some things at the University, and start making our fall schedules for school starting, last minute trips, putting some food by before the freshness ends, parties to attend (my sister turns 40! My little sister!), and more. My fingers are itching to stitch something new but I am determined to get some things ready for the State Fair, so must stay on track. My mind wants to absorb wonderful words and think about them, but with the kids all talking about Harry Potter, I must read it before they give it away. My local library is having a talk on The Memory Keepers Daughter and Shepherd University is having Henry Louis Gates Jr. sometime soon, so must read those two. Things to do, things to do. Yet it feels wonderful. My body hurts, and I yearn.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Scenes from Cape Henlopen

The bottle opener flip flop in action. He was never without his shoes or he felt the wrath of others.
A snooze in the hammock.
A sick puppy who saved the trip by making the madatory emergency room visit. Many were worried was it going to be them. She's feeling fine now, but camping in the heat at the beach is not for her.
Camping cousins having fun, being silly, following the path of their Mothers.
Smokin ' and drinkin'. Well, actually eating cookies and I was drinking. The girls only smoke cuban cigars in the Caymans.
Happy camper or is she just sleep deprived?
Dirty feet, although not as dirty as the year we tattooed our legs with magic markers, rain, and dirty sand. We looked diseased. That was the same year we had a tarp over the fire to keep it going and of course stood underneath it to stay dry. When we went into town to Dairy Queen, people sniffed the air and said "What's that funky smell?"
Path to the beach.
A Happy camper despite her sunburn, and her medication that makes her susceptible to sunburn, and her Mother nagging about sunscreen. What an angel.
Geocaching was a hit until they went into the salt path and were consumed by mosquitos. Now we all want GPS systems.
Silly sisters.
Time to make the donuts! We cooked 90% of our meals over the open fire. Our friends Brian and Roto are the masters of cooking over the fire, although my sister is right there with them. She made the donuts. We made ribs, fajitas, a mean meatloaf, breakfast casserole, cinnamon rolls, blueberry coffee cake (muffins), sausage, peppers, and potato bake, bacon, scrapple, eggs, pancakes. No trip is complete without pork products on the grill. All absolultely heavenly.
The Dog Beach, officially known as Herring Point. We once sent Brian on a wild goose chase actually looking for The Dog Beach. We never paid attention to the official name. Our bad.
More happy campers, some happy just in the solitude of reading and relaxing.
These people border on glamping. Brian and Roto always have all the accesories and fun toys. We had campsites that backed up to one another. We had two pop-ups, 1 tent, 3 hammocks, one screen tent and plenty or room. Poor sister had site 19 which was in full sun and deadly. Never stay on site 19, we know that now.
As always we made a shoppy shoppy trip into town, a couple visits to DQ, a bike ride, Brian and MHP were the only brave ones to kayak in the heat and full sun (my heros). I did not climb the observation tower for the seocond year in a row, what's up with that? The saying for the week was anytime anyone said "I'm thinking about..." the response was "I'm thinking about my doorbell, when ya gonna ring it, when ya gonna ring it?" Anyone a Jack White/White Stripes fan? We had many tired, hot, cranky, campers who had not been home in a couple weeks going from camp to camping. We had other tired, hot, cranky (me) campers. Every year it is a battle to find time for this trip, a weather situation to deal with, yet we find humor, fun, grace, acceptance, and love in the end. I wouldn't miss it for the world.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Linda Day Clark and The "Benders" or Geesing with my Aunt

Sunday, My Aunt and I made plans to see the exhibit of The Gees Bend Quilts at the Walters Art Museum. Luckily, Auntie was paying attention and suggested this day so we could also listen to a presentation by Linda Day Clark, a photographer who accompanied a journalist from New York Times(?to Gees Bend, Alabama. Over the next 6 years, Linda continued to make the trip to Gees Bend to listen and photograph. Linda started her talk softly, slowly, searchingly, and going back as far as her education. She showed photographs of North Avenue, where she had been told not to go, "you'll get killed". She showed the spirit of community. She then showed and spoke of a project in Nigeria, where she had been told not to go, "you'll get killed". Again, the spirit of community shown through in her photographs. She showed and spoke of Maryland slaves, and lastly the "Benders" as she called them. She was able to weave the projects together, North Avenue, Nigeria, MD slaves, and Gees Bend, by their common thread of community, overcoming obstacles, enslavement, and strength. It was quite amazing.

We slipped out during question and answer period so we could see the quilts before the entire crowd got there. They were very interesting. What was very apparent was the era in which they were made, even without looking at the dates. Auntie and I discussed the heritage of their quilts, how it has changed since they have come, again, into the limelight. We looked at quilts that were objects of beauty because of what they came from, the obvious make do thriftiness, the obvious patina of wear from clothing and from use as a covering. This was missing in the current quilts of the 90's and 2000. We also slipped upstairs to see the photographs that Linda had taken in Gees Bend. We looked at the photos of the Benders and what she had captured with her lens was the eyes. What they had seen, what they felt, the strength, the weaknesses. Again, amazing.

Back in the day, when I first started quilting, I had a quilting friend. She was older, almost Grandmother age for me, and she was a perfectionist. I have many unfinished projects or tops that were discarded because they were not perfect. She would have me take out stitches for various reasons, points don't match exactly, thread is wrong, etc. Don't get me wrong, I loved her (and still do) and learned quite a bit. But I have been freed. Now I know it does not matter. The beauty comes in the process and the use.
During that earlier time, I had occasion to see some African/American quilts at the Banneker-Douglass Museum in Annapolis. I don't know what collection they were from and also did not appreciate them. Also during that time, I received a book from my Aunt called "The Freedom Quilting Bee" about these African American women in an outpost of land in Alabama producing these incredible works of art in their quilts. Yup, it was the "Benders". The women of Gees Bend. I plan on rereading this book after the multitude of others before it.
I truly enjoyed the afternoon with my Aunt. We had a delightful lunch and talked of the upcoming surgeries and health issues of my parents. We spoke of family and it's roll in our lives. She was the perfect person to see this exhibit with as she examines and likes to discuss what she sees. She has the ability to wonder, to listen, to learn, to appreciate. It was a perfect delight.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

A Good Day for a Float

Walking down the NCR trail to the put in point
loading in the water
view of the river before we start floating
With the thirty(?) of us out of the water about an hour later. It made room for this next group to float. The river was just littered with people like us who just wanted to float.

Friday, August 03, 2007

List of Current Events

Cape Henlopen tomorrow

Aug. 10, 10pm Anders Osborne at Power Plant Live Courtyard, FREE

Aug. 11 Corn Roast
Aug. 11 Floatilla on the Gunpowder

Aug. 13 Emma moves out

Aug. 18 Hot August Blues
Aug. 18 Family Reunion

Aug. 19 Dinner with friends

Aug. 24 G Love and Special Sauce
Slightly Stoopid
Aug. 26 Sunday Night Live starts

Aug. 27 School starts - boohoo!

I Never Want to See You Again!

The parting words of My Handsome Prince's CardioThoracic surgeon. Amen to that. He will, though, be forever under the care of his Oncologist.

We are off to the beach for a week. Our favorite home away from home, camping at Cape Henlopen. A week with family (Li'l Sis and kids) and friends so close they are family. We will play capture the flag on the dunes, cook delicious meals over the open fire, kayak, bike, climb the WW II Observation Tower, lay around in hammocks, road trips to DQ, and of course, sunbathe and swim. It's definitely overdue around here.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Back in the Saddle Again

I rode to my sister's house last night. It's about 25 miles away. We were invited to dinner so I thought I would ride and My Handsome Prince would drive bringing our contributions to dinner and my change of clothes. Makes sense. I will never, ever, ever, do that again. It was the third most frightening thing I've experienced. First was climbing the steps of the Duomo in Florence, Second was the swim in my triathlon last year, and now riding the roads from my house to Li'l Sisters house. The route is heavily travelled and has little or no shoulder. Early in the ride, a motorist coming the opposite way, looked straight at me and flipped me the bird. I was not interfering with his way, nor was there anyone behind me. Definitely miss Italian drivers and roads in instances like that. There were several times in the ride, after a huge truck or trailer would blow by me within inches, trying not to overcompensate on my bike (BB is very sensitive), that I almost called MHP to pick me up. But, determined to conquer this ride and this fear, I persevered. I really was not observant about the terrain except turning on to my sisters road, from almost a complete stop, and climbing the shortest, steepest hill, then a lovely downhill breeze until "The Driveway". Straight up, lowest gear, out of the seat, Sambino (his new name after Italy) saying "Hey", Carlman saying "Hey", Li'l Sis saying "Hey do you remember so and so?" as I am still climbing, panting, and unable to speak. I jumped in the pool having only taken off my helmet and shoes.

Dad joined us for dinner. Typical to fashion, we ate wonderful food, drank a little too much vino, and told and heard stories. My sister and her husband speaking of their trip to Italy (totally different/separate from ours). My Dad told a story of going to see Duke Ellington with a friend whose friend was an intimate friend of The Duke. They went back stage, spoke with him, and he even gave them a private little concert. My sister and I were flabbergasted that we had never heard this story. Duke Ellington had taken their addresses and promised them Christmas cards from Europe. He died that year and sometime in the spring, Dad received a card from Duke Ellington's personal secretary, carrying out his promise. Wow.

New Blog

I'm working, very slowly, on my Italy blog. Come take a look.
An Italian Holiday