The 70273 Project

with a side of Jeanne Hewell-Chambers

Category: stitchings (page 1 of 36)

Evidence Explained

Evidence 2017, Day 1

Inspired by my friend Judy Martin’s marking of time and dedication to her art, despite a full family life,
Inspired by my friend Jude Hill’s dedication to daily stitching and reflection, interwoven into her daily life,
Inspired by my new friend Kathleen Warren‘s mindful noticing of her surroundings and honoring of her creative process . . .

Evidence 2014

I revamp my abandoned 2014 attempt and a previous attempt at daily stitching that I can’t even find now into a version that will see me through to the champagne. I just know it will.

Evidence 2017, Day 2

Being an accomplishment-oriented girl, I like to track how I spend my life.

Evidence 2017, Day 3

I first ask myself: how do I want to fill my days, and the answer hasn’t changed significantly in the past 4 years:
stitching,
moving (as in moving my body through space – walking, yoga, exercise, etc),
writing,
mirthing (think: awe, wonder, laughing).
This year I add 2 things:
prospering (in every way a girl can prosper) and
connecting (as in with people, friends, family, strangers)

Evidence 2017, Day 4

Then I assign each a color. (There is a story behind each hue. I’ll tell you later.)
stitching
moving
writing
mirthing
prospering
connecting

Once that is decided, I make my way to the local thrift shop and purchase clothes in those colors to use as fabrics. Storied cloth, my favorite.

Evidence 2017, Day 5

I track everything in my handwritten journal, and each morning I look back at the day before, free-cut strips of fabric in the appropriate colors, then I turn my Improv Self loose to  stitch them together into a 6.5″ square block.

Evidence 2017, Day 6

The method of stitching the daily blocks will change each month. For January 2017, I’m using wedges – something I’ve long wanted to try my hand at, but never made the time to try. (Wait’ll you see what the daily blocks will look like next month.)

Evidence 2017, Day 7

You might ask (I know I did) Why is there not a color representing The 70273 Project? The answer: Because The 70273 Project touches every part of my life, and every verb I want to have in my every day touches The 70273 Project. Writing? Multiple writing projects each day are for The 70273 Project. (Know anybody who wants a guest blog post?) Stitching? I stitch several blocks each day for The 70273 Project. Moving? I move so I can keep up with The 70273 Project! Connecting? Oh good lord, such marvelous connections are made daily because of The 70273 Project. You get the picture. Right or wrong, there is no separation between The 70273 Project and me . . . something we’ll talk more about later.

 

Evidence 2017, Week 1

Each week will be stitched together, then each month, and finally . . . the year.

One thing that eludes me right now is how to finish the back. Ideas?

A Handmade Christmas

Seems  like it was 3 years ago, yet the calendar say it was a mere 3 weeks ago when the family gathered together for a week of hilarity, memory making, and opening. Last year I stole minutes here and there from The 70273 Project to make some gifts for giving.

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care . . .

When Mom was a baby, her mother took her to visit one of her grandmothers. Mother reached down and grabbed a tiny fistful of the lace collar on her grandmother’s blouse. “This baby is gonna’ like pretty things,” the grandmother correctly predicted, so Mother’s stocking was made with flowers to reflect her flourishing green thumb and topped with lace.

My daughter-in-law, Marnie, is an art historian who enjoys art that’s so old it makes my head hurt. Before our trip to see The Bayeux Tapestry several years ago, Marnie gave me enough background information that I should’ve gotten college credit hours. Her stocking was topped with embroidered trim depicting a section of The Bayeux Tapestry.

When my daughter was born, I took her stocking to the hospital with me and added the last element – her name  – after she was born and before we brought her home.

Fourteen months later, I did the same thing with my son’s stocking, taking it to the hospital to add his name once we knew whether we were the proud parents of a girl or a boy.

The Engineer’s grandmother, we called her Maw – made a quilt of old suits once worn by The Engineer’s grandfather, Pops. Though I could’ve repaired the quilt, I chose to make The Engineer a stocking from it.

Calder Ray celebrated his first Christmas in 2016. I used colors from Alexander Calder’s artist palette to make the fabric for my grandson’s stocking, cuffing it with some wool fabric from Ireland, and Calder Ray did just what you’d expect a seven month old to do: he chewed on it.

Remember I told you how Marnie likes ancient art and how knowledgeable and enamored she is with The Bayeux Tapestry? Well, this year I put the quilting frame down and picked up the wool to do a needlepoint canvas of one of the scenes from The Bayeux Tapestry. After finishing  it, I could not decide what to do with it. Should I frame it?  They don’t really have that many available walls, so maybe not. Make a pillow? That would mean cording, and I am not good at cording, so no. When I spied the adorable little stool with the hinged lid in the antique store, I knew what to do, so now Marnie has a footstool, covered with a needlepoint scene from The Bayeux Tapestry and a wee little bit of storage space to boot. (I just hope their new, rambunctious Border Collie, Harper, who has a hankering for gnawing on wooden furniture, never discovers the wood underneath the needlepoint.)

With visions of not sugarplums, but with dreams of a ritual of the quilt being pulled out every December 1 and slept under till the New Year, I made Calder Ray his Christmas quilt, not to hang on the wall, but to use. I’ll show you better, fuller photos later when I’m finished quilting it (Yes, I gifted it to him partly quilted and partly basted) so you can see that branches and needles of the red tree (I’ll explain the red later, too) are in the shape of my hands, and the trunk is in the shape of Calder Ray’s feet.

The body of the angel that perches at the top of the red tree is made of drawings of Calder Ray’s feet, and her wings are made from drawings of Calder Ray’s pudgy, recently-discovered 7-month old hands. Her raiments are from a napkin The Engineer found for me in a local thrift shop.

You know, 4.5 decades ago, I made everybody’s Christmas gifts as a matter of economy – as newlyweds, we didn’t have money to spend buying a lot of presents – and I remember getting a note from my sister-in-law saying that she felt like the lucky one because while The Engineer bought his brother a nice gift, hers was handmade. Her words didn’t really mean all that much then, but now, when I snuggle under the quilt my grandmother made, when I look at the crewel work my mother stitched, when we hang those handmade ornaments on the tree, I understand and offer up a wee little wish that Calder Ray and his parents put these things in their cherish column one day, too.

~~~~~~~

Looking for The 70273 Project? It’ll be back tomorrow, and in the meantime, try these haunts:
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Get folks to help celebrate your birthday by making blocks and/or donating bucks.
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Tell your friends what you want for your birthday.
Shop with Amazon Smile and support The 70273 Project.
And if you haven’t yet made some blocks, perhaps you’d like to put some cloth in your hands and join us.
Or maybe you’d like to gather friends and family, colleagues or students, club or guild members, etc. together and make a group quilt.

A Stitch from the Past

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About 15 years ago, I had this idea: I cut circles from fabric and stitched biographical plates (portraits) of my ancestors. Small projects, easy to tuck into my bag and work on wherever I happened to be. And what did I do after stitching them?

Nothing.

I’d planned to stitch them onto a tablecloth . . . but that never happened. I just tucked them into the scrap suitcase were they lingered (forgotten) until I went to grab bits I might use on The Storyteller’s Apron, #1: Sky Rider.  Now the plates will become constellations – or maybe galaxies – as I stitch along with Jude Hill and the #sunmoonstars gang.

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This is the plate of my maternal granddaddy who was a sheriff in Fayette County, GA who liked to play checkers with his grandchildren and took it upon himself to teach each of us to drink coffee. He’d pull us into his lap, fill a saucer with milk, then add a splash of steaming hot Luzianne coffee – just enough to turn the milk a tan color. We’d blow on it and blow on it and blow on it, sending the steam across the room, sipping from the saucer only when there was no more steam to blow. Me? I took part in the ritual up till the part of sipping the milked-down coffee. That was as far as I could go, and to this day, I’ve never even tried coffee.

Starting is Such Sweat ‘n Sorrow

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I think.

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I gather.

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I plan.

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I align.

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I start. Finally.

Why so much circling before starting to stitch along with Jude Hill’s SunMoonStars? I think it has to do with trust. After all these trips around the sun, my brain still don’t trust that my heart and hands or even itself, for that matter, will come up with a story, develop it, tell it. My brain – the same brain with authority issues which means it’s the same brain that doesn’t like to follow directions or use patterns –  doesn’t believe in haptic intelligence or creativity.

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I bought these 2 curtain panels at a thrift shop, and I spent hours trying to decide how to use them. Do I make one long storytelling cloth? Do I make one panel the back of the quilt? Do I make a long, skinny “book”? I finally decide to match the circles – because we all know that everything goes much more smoothly when the planets, suns, and moons are in alignment.

I long to be the woman who can travel the world with a backpack, has more space in her house than stuff, and just starts. I’m not there yet, but I’m working on it. And this cloth, this series? It’s gonna’ be FUN.

Sky Rider

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I rescued these years ago.
Ten blocks.
A quarter each,
and she gave me a discount because I used the word “rescue”.

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Some see tatters.

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Hard times.
Worn slap out.

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I see stories of resourcefulness and making do.
A special kind of creativity, if you ask me.

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Stories of homemade dresses.
and flower gardens lovingly tended.

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Stories of birthday cakes
and piano lessons
and biscuits with butter and syrup.

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I’ve said Yes to Jude Hill’s latest stitch-a-long, and I’m thinking about doing something I’ve never done before: turning these blocks into a book for Calder Ray . . . mostly because if I make a book, the fetching back side fabric becomes a page and doesn’t remain hidden. The story is already forming . . . a boy who walks on suns and moons, who eats stars for breakfast, lassoes them in play and lets them give him a bath, even if it’s not Saturday night.

These are things my brain is thinking, you understand, plans my brain is making so it can be comfortable knowing how everything is supposed to go before I even thread the needle. Isn’t it funny that in all the trips I’ve made around the sun on this beautiful rock, my brain is always surprised to find that its best laid plans are subject to change once my hands pick up and get going . . .

Calder Ray’s Standing Invitation

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The clock ticks loudly. Time to make that quilt for my soon-to-be born grandchild. I have no idea what I want it to look like – something that doesn’t alarm me cause I usually start with only the vaguest notion of what I want to do. Even on the rare occasion when I do have a detailed, clear idea, it seldom turns out the way I envisioned, creativity being what it is and all. Not knowing the gender or room color, I gather my supplies, selecting colors that tickles my eyes and cloth that satisfies my touch. I trust my Bones.

Leaves3

Ideas and images come to call as I go along. I cut scraps into ovals and send them out to my elves, asking them to get signatures for me. And when the pieces come back, I decide I have to – I just have to – stitch over the autographs to make them more visible, more lasting.

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I stitch wherever I am – in the car, on the sofa, in the studio. Sometimes I stitch in the darkness of a hospital room.

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and at my niece’s house. (Which reminds me: I need to order them some more bubble juice.)

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My 2 year old great nephew is gracious enough to model a monkey for me, something to fill that unexpected bare spot. Once it is stitched, he seems a little under-enthusiastic about my monkey (which indicates his bend towards the more literal-brained side of the family). (Which is all of them except Nancy.) (Though a couple of them seem to be melting a little bit as they go along.)

BirdAndNest1 copy

FlockOfBirds

I stitch the bird and the nest and the flock of birds while at my son’s house. Because all I could hear on the inside was a short tape of things my father-in-law said when I showed him the sketches I made on my first day of drawing class, I decide to cut freehand instead of drawing on the fabric and cutting on the lines. I feel like a proud kindergartner when I show my son the impromptu birds and nest.  I’m not sure he noticed the heart-shaped eggs. They were a last-minute addition. Of course.

(Note: See that autograph just to the right of the top bird on the left in the picture above? That’s Nancy’s signature. And the one to the right of it? That’s my 2-year old great-nephew’s siggie.)

Branches2

I stitch the trunk (which was originally hanging down below the quilt) and the branches while at my daughter’s house. Oh those branches. What a fit they give all of us – Alison, The Engineer, and me. I lay down fabric for each branch to indicate the different branches of the family tree. But it is too chaotic – too much visual clutter. The three of us grow quite cranky. Nobody knows what to do. Finally, in a Hail Mary foot stomp kind of move, I find enough of the same fabric, fold it over and over again, lay it down on the already-attached branches, and voila! My eyes calm and purr. Each branch now sports a different base and the same top cover. The same, but different. Together, but separate. I like that. And the trunk? It is far too distracting hanging down, so I snip it off and hem it up.

AnimalsAndInvitation

At The Very Last Minute, I add an impromptu gathering of our cats and dogs, sitting in a surprise flower bed. Then I add the invitation . . . When becoming gets too hard, go to the Forest. Maybe this is one time I should’ve printed my words on paper and stitched through the paper cause then I might’ve had room to say “family” forest. Hopefully everybody – and most especially You Know Who – gets the idea.

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Finally this happens

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and this (oh those Chambers men)

and 3 months later, when they come for a visit here atop the mountain,
this happens while Calder Ray lays on a pallet of 3 quilts made by my grandmother,
his great great grandmother. First we sing our first duet . . .

. . . then one sings and the other dances.
In this neck of the woods, we call that a Hootenanny.
(And um, about that singing. It’s fairly obvious to everybody
that Alison does not get her talent from me.)

SignedSealedDelivered

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And now the quilt  – Calder Ray’s Standing Invitation – hangs in his room.
Signed. Sealed. Delivered.
(Note the wall color – ha!)
Everybody calls him Calder, but I’m Southern,
and we like double names, so I call him Calder Ray.

LoveNotesToCalderRay

And on top of the shelves under the quilt is this blue elephant. I bought it before he was born cause I knew – I just knew – he was gonna’ be a boy. Because so many different colors of dirt and rocks lie between Calder Ray and me, I keep Mr. Blue Elephant filled to the brim with handwritten bedtime notes from me. When he’s old enough to appreciate it, his parents are supposed to pull one out every night when he’s tucked into bed and read it to him. Eventually he’ll be able to read them himself, of course, and I already know things I want to write him when he’s off at college or heading down The aisle. You know I do.

I also have an inkling of another quilt I want to make him. Well, 12 or 15 quilts, actually. One to wrap up in when he is sick. One to wrap up in when he needs fortification. One to lay on for nap time. A quilt to sleep under on Christmas Eve, another for Valentine’s Day (also my birthday, so that one will have to be special), his birthday quilt, a New Year’s quilt, a First Day of School quilt, and a big, anytime/anywhere quilt that will remind him of the special sauce I’ve already begun whispering to him every chance I get:

You are kind.
You are funny.
You are smart.
You are creative.

This quilt I can already see.

Of Turtles and Home

HughesHallSign
A house is not an end in itself, any more than “home” is just one geographic location where things feel safe and familiar. Home can be any place in which we create our own sense of rest and peace as we tend to the spaces in which we eat and sleep and play. It is a place that we create and re-create in every moment, at every stage of our lives, a place where the plain and common becomes cherished and the ordinary becomes sacred.”
― from “The Gift of an Ordinary Day: A Mother’s Memoir” by Katrina Kenison
Thank you to my lifelong friend Susan Bray Green for reminding me of this book last week. I’m enjoying it the second time around as much as I enjoyed it the first time.
IroningBoard
This is my home this week: the Wild Wing of Hughes Hall at Arrowmont. Camp, I call it, and it is the best kind of camp: a week long arts and crafts time . . . although what I learn this week is nothing like the lanyards I excelled in at Camp Inagahee, and my friend Dianna isn’t along. This week, I fly solo.
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Monday I spend the entire day feeling befuddled as I walk on unfamiliar ground, trying to grasp what it is we’re doing and what lies ahead of us so I can plan.  I sleep 13 hours Monday night.
JournalComputer
Tuesday is Photoshop day, and for this former freelance graphic designer, it is a homecoming. I feel a skoch better . . . but only a skoch because it’s been a l-o-n-g time since I used Photoshop, and what with all the upgrades through the years, about the only thing that is the same is the way it’s spelled.
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Wednesday my best laid plans go kaput, but I keep moving, even though I’m still not quire sure where I’m headed. I make good use of some of the sit-a-spell-and-rest spots.
BearCrossing
These signs aren’t posted (this one right behind my dorm room) just for the cuteness factor – a bear stops by at lunch time. A real skinny woman makes herself bigger and says authoritatively “Go away,” and the bear did. It’s funny how an animal that is so huge has no concept of size. And speaking of lunch, these camp meals are infinitely more delicious than what we were fed at my childhood summer camps. And nobody makes me clean my plate or drink milk.
ClothsPrepared
Today (Thursday) I’ll print, (and tomorrow I’ll no doubt print do-overs for the ones that don’t quite turn out the way I’d like. It’s a given.)
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The dorm room is comfortable in its simplicity, and the studio is magnificent. I have asked The Engineer to bring a tape measure when he comes to fetch me on Friday so I can at least dream about recreating one atop the mountain. The work table is sturdy and gives the sense it can withstand anything. This table is a partner, an accomplice, a studio assistant. It is constant, ready, and able. The top is covered with a layer of padding and topped off with white vinyl. Underneath the table is a built-in shelf, perfect for storing bags and whatnot. A strip of electrical outlets runs down the side of each wall so there’s never a need to search for a place to plug something in or a need for a multi-outlet gizmo. Several other outlets hang from the ceiling, making them perfect for irons. There is a place for and room for everything.
The design wall is massive – I need a step ladder to fully avail myself of it, and for one who hasn’t room for a design wall in The Dissenter’s Chapel & Snug, this is like working in a dream. There really is a tremendous difference when you can see things from a distance.
JeanaKleinPiece
Done by Jeana Eve Kelin
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This week renews my desire to print on fabric, and I’ve learned things that will take me further on that adventure.
I’m not sure I’ll ever recreate this technique, though, (even if I could!) because (a) Jeana’s technique requires painting, and I do not paint and have sub-zero interest in learning; (b) I like my quilts to warm you up when you get cold and to make you feel better when you’re feeling puny; and (c) this process is rather tedious and technical while I prefer intuitive and take-it-as-it-comes. But then I’m certainly old enough to know to never say never . . .

(Please excuse any formatting ick. WordPress is being difficult.)

A Cold Molasses Kind of Day

Two nights with little (last night) or no (the night before last) sleep caught up with me today. The reason for the sleepless night is that my bedtime reading was a first-person account of the Holocaust, and her stories were even more horrifying than anything I’ve seen, read, or heard to date. By the time I gave myself permission to close the book, it was too late. The images and feelings were stirred and refused to be quieted. 48 hours later, they are still with me – especially imagining how The 70273 we commemorate must have been treated. I am not one to play ostrich and bury my head in the sand, finding that a dangerous act that paves way for atrocities, but I can now understand better than ever why some people make such choices.

Though there’s much to do, I decided there was nothing to do but move slowly through today and punctuate the afternoon with a nap.

70273Ironing

So I first ironed the red fabric that Tami Kemberling donated to The 70273 Project.
Ironing flat pieces is much easier than ironing clothes.

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Then I stitched a bit on a tenured Work In Progress,
a piece in The Rinse Cycle: Pivotal Epiphanies in a Woman’s Life series,
and marveled at how much I like the wrong side of pieces
sometimes more than I like the right side.
In high school, I made my dress for the senior prom
(Yes, I had that much personality)
and I horrified my mother and her friends
by choosing to make the wrong side of the fabric
the right side.
Only Ms Johnson thought it a daring and brilliant move
on my part.
In return, I found her a daring and brilliant woman.

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Then I stitched a bit on the Storm at Sea quilt
I’m making for my boy, Kipp.
It is the never-ending quilt, to be sure
because I did the Jeanne thing
and opted to hand stitch each block individually
instead of quilting straight rows across.
I tried the straight across approach and felt it disrupted the magic
of this pattern, so I ripped it all out,
took a deep breath
and started again.
It takes about 12 hours to quilt an entire block.
Every now and then I count the blocks waiting to be quilted
and formulate a plan for reaching the finish line –
1 block finished on Monday and Tuesday;
2 blocks finished on  Wednesday and Thursday;
3 blocks finished on Friday and Saturday:
and so on till I know what day I will be finished.
Then I take a day (or ten) off
and must devise a new plan.
My current targeted deadline is Christmas.
I might make that.
Might.

The Engineer, who refuses to take naps
and sometimes (thought not today, thankfully)
it seems he decides that nobody else will nap either,
busied himself rearranging the deck furniture,
bringing some furniture up from the lower deck
to find a new home on the upper deck
and presumably carting other pieces
down to the lower deck.
Both decks are rather small,
so I dread going outside tomorrow
to find (yet another) space that has that
just-moved-in look.
The Engineer doesn’t nap
and I don’t tolerate clutter well (at all).
Even after all these years, though,
we find a way to compromise
and live together with respect for
each other without completely abdicating our own selves.
We’ve become experts at choosing
which hills we’re willing to die on
and which hills to let go.
Some days that’s  easer than others.
Every day it’s at the top of the list of things love must do.

It’s Her Birthday, and I Got the Gift

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Today is Nancy’s birthday,
and don’t you know that
She is The Gift.

 

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the gift of laughter

 

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and love

 

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and reminders of what’s important and what’s not.

 

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of being content with what you have and where you are
instead of looking for That One Special Thing
that will make you happy or make your life Complete.

 

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She’s an example of how to accept help from others
without feeling needy or inadequate
or obligated.

 

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She gifts so many with her art,
her smile,
her Being.

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Becoming Nancy’s sister-in-law might just be the best gift
The Engineer ever gave me,
and let me tell you what:
he’s a fantastic gift-giver.

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Happy birthday, Nancy.
Here’s to many more years of
drawing and stitching
laughing and loving
and good health.
Cheers. Clink.

In Our Own Language 16

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Usually Nancy (my disabled sister-in-law) draws,
and I stitch her drawings,

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but this time we laid the crayons down
and played with bits from my scrap bag.

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Nancy placed the bits of fabric on fusible sheets,
and I took it from there

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stitching in the car . . .

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and under Adonis . . .

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and under Mr. God (dog, in reverse) . . .

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and under Dante.

It’s obviously a hit with the felines,
and Nancy seems to like it, too.

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