The 70273 Project

with a side of Jeanne Hewell-Chambers

Tag: nancy (page 1 of 21)

Time for Nancy to Blow Out the Candles Again!

It’s that time of year again – the day for Nancy to blow out the candles on her cake! If you’ve poked around this blog, you know who Nancy is, and if you’re at all familiar with The 70273 Project, you know that I was stitching Nancy’s drawings when The Idea came and whispered to the ears of my heart. Since Nancy is a woman of few words, I think we’ll celebrate today in photos.  Click on the photos and get to know Nancy, if you’re a mind to. I’ll be surprised if you don’t leave this post smiling and feeling a little lighter. Nancy does that for folks.











Happy birthday, Nancy. May you have many, many, many more.


P.S. I want y’all to know that when I called to order flowers for our Nancy, the owner of the shop told me about her brother who is 1 year older than Nancy, disabled, and lives right down the street from her. Can we say “small world” one more time?!

Living Gratitude

To all who brighten days with laughter, kindness, and thoughtfulness,

To all who spill goodness into the world at every turn and opportunity,

To all who keep a respectful, open heart to those with differences large and small,

To all who shine light into the darkness,

To all who dare to think for yourselves and allow others to do the same,

To all who help commemorate the 70273 precious souls,

Thank you and Happy Thanksgiving from The Engineer, Nancy, and me.

Our Little Houdini


Hospital Room 534
Orange City, FL

Nancy is not as alert today as she was yesterday, though I think her tongue is receding in size. Tired of the catheter, she simply wiggles her way out of it, leaving it on the side of the bed. They decide to leave it out, and I am not sorry about that decision.

I  kick some serious ass today, and I feel really, really good about it. Boot one doctor, despite being told by many that it couldn’t be done. Put others on notice. Have an eyeball to eyeball with one particular nurse, and it goes so well that within 5 minutes of my little treatise about both of us being on Team Nancy, she was wheeling me in a reclining chair, pillow, and blanket. Without me asking.

Undoubtedly the best part (aside from booting the asshat doctor) . . .


Around 4 am I sit in my recliner, stitching. My feet are up and my chair is positioned about an arm’s length away, facing Nancy. In one sure and swift move that takes less than 90 seconds, our little Houdini wrestles her hands out of the protective mittens – without disturbing the velcro binding, mind you – and yanks that tube from her nose.

I fetch Nurse CeeCe who comes into the room and takes her position in one side of Nancy while I position myself on the other side.

“Did Jeanne do that?” CeeCe asks Nancy, giving a curt nod in my direction.

“Yes,” Nancy says, waiting a beat before busting out into a full body chortle. She laughs about once every 17 years, and let me tell you, the sound of her laugh spreads to those around her quicker than poison ivy on a hot day in a wrestling ring.

The three of us keep laughing, and every time we stop to catch our breath, I say “You pulled that tube out your own self, and you’re blaming it on me,” and the chortling starts all over again.

Three women, laughing their heads off at 4 o’clock in the morning. It is one of the sweetest moments of my life, one I will carry tucked into my heart forever. The sound of Nancy’s laughter is delightful in and of itself. And the cognitive connections she makes to enkindle that laughter – that astonishing element of surprise because sometimes I  don’t give her enough credit – well, wow.

In Our Own Language 16


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

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

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


stitching in the car . . .


and under Adonis . . .


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


and under Dante.

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

Nancy Does Her Part for The 70273 Project Blocks

Nancy does her part: makes a drawing that will become her block for The 70273 Project.
(Lighting was a little on the dark side on account of it was post-lunch nap time.)

And here Nancy and Jeanne (mostly Jeanne, actually) talk about
what it’s like to be a mother and an artist.



Here are Nancy’s finished drawings for her 70273 blocks.
Just wait till you see what I have planned for
my part of the collaboration.
Stay tuned.

Today we picked up the 563 (or so) drawings that will become
In Our Own Language 19.
Here are some of my favorites:





Tonight I was tickled to be invited to talk about The 70273 Project
with other writers over on Twitter
in #storydam,
a chat moderated tonight by Meredith Shadwill.

Don’t forget to help get the word out by mentioning The 70273 Project on
Facebook, Twitter, and any other social media outlet you hang out in.


Remember to subscribe so you stay up to date.


Let me know when you get your block finished
and let me know if you’re gonna’ participate in the
Make-a-Block-a-Day-in-March Event.

and, as always:

Thank you.

Turning the Tables


Nancy and The Engineer

Nancy Talks About her Baby Doll

When I was a teenager, too young to drive myself to the shopping mall and too old to want to be seen with my mother, I would sit on a bench in the middle of the mall and watch people. Sometimes I would pretend I was handicapped just to see how people reacted to me, then I’d switch back to me, then back to handicapped. On and on it would go, this private social inquiry, with me observing and noting the differences in people’s responses to me.

Though some were quite gentle, most pretended they didn’t see me when I donned the disabled persona.

(And yes, it’s true: I was an odd kid.)

(Some would argue that I still am.)

Some block makers have expressed reluctance to make a block fearing they will not do it right. Now I’ve known a lot of disabled people in my life (and my regular readers know how much I adore my sister-in-law, Nancy), and never – not once – have I ever heard a single one of them fret about getting something wrong. Right and wrong just doesn’t exist for them. Making isn’t about how they do it, it’s about doing it, period. The making is all that matters.

So I’m thinking that maybe, when we’re making these blocks for The 70273 Project, we could let Nancy and her friends be our teachers and just make for the sheer joy of making. And who knows? We might find it so freeing, we’ll decide to say “Good riddance” and leave judgement on the side of the road and never, ever look back.


Want to raise your hand and become part of the Make-A-Block-A-Day-In-March Tribe? Leave a comment here or send me an email or find me on Facebook and let me know ’cause I’m thinking about setting us up a Facebook page to call our own.

Want to subscribe? Click right this way.

And hey, if you’re on twitter, you’re cordially invited to join Meredith Shadwill (facebook /  twitter) and me (@whollyjeanne) in a twitter chat about The 70273 Project and writing. Look for (and use when you chime in) #storydam to join the conversation. It’s gonna’ be fun.

A(nother) Squeaky New Beginning


Happy New Year from Jeanne and Nancy

Every New Year’s Day, my Grandmother would finish breakfast, get lunch on to cook, then take her seat in the chair underneath the telephone. She’d pull out the baby blue zippered 3-ring binder that held all sorts of important information, turn to the curled-up page where she’d written all the family phone numbers, and put her finger beside the name at the top. Carefully, making sure she got the number right, she dialed one number after another.

“Hello?” answered the receiving party.

“Hello. Is this 1-9-7-6?” Grandmother would ask, clamping her hand over her mouth so the person on the other end would take her seriously.

“No,” they’d say, thinking she was referring to a phone number, “this is 5321.”

“Oh yes, it is so 1976,” she’d say, “check the calendar,” her laughter erupting as she slammed down the phone. She’d take a few deep, satisfied breaths to collect herself before dialing the next number on the list.

New Year’s Day is the only day my grandmother ever turned prankster, and she wore that year-turned-telephone number prank slap out. Today, ignoring caller id because that’s not important to the memory, my cousin Stacy and I race to call each other on New Year’s Day, asking simply, “Is this 2-0-1-6?”, laugh, and hang up.


Happy New Year, y’all. I hope you’ve had your black eyed peas and turnip greens and pork cause there’s no need in tempting fate. But listen here: whatever resolutions you make, whatever resolutions you break, may 2016 hold delight around every turn. May you laugh more than you cry. And may you never question – or let anyone else question – your worthiness.

Now let’s get on out there and have ourselves a big time, why don’t we.


Doesn’t matter what day of the year it is, Nancy and I continue doing what we do . . .

Nancy draws:

IOOL4 023 copy

And I stitch:

IOOL4 23

And we watch to see where that carries us.

In Our Own Language 18


last Friday . . .

Jeanne: Do you want to ride in the convertible?
Nancy: Yes.
Jeanne: Do you want to spend the night with us at the hotel?
Nancy: Yes.
Jeanne: Do you want to go shopping?
Nancy: SHOPPING!!!!!!
[I took that as a yes.]
Jeanne: Do you want to walk on the beach?
Nancy: [crickets] [Nancy does not like to walk.]
Jeanne: Do you want to look at the ocean?
Nancy: It’s green!!!


We went down to visit Nancy this weekend.
She didn’t know we were coming.
There were rides in the convertible


a spend-the-night in the hotel on Saturday night




and time spent looking at the ocean
the lacy, green ocean.

There was also drawing
of course.
86 drawings made at school since our visit in late October
and 46 drawings made in the hotel room.
The two batches make up
In Our Own Language 18.
132 drawings.


Note the color choices


the use of negative space


the border


the movement.


She continues to make this shape
a vessel, I call it.
It will play a prominent role
when I begin to stitch these.

IOOL4 22

In Our Own Language 4:22

Right now,
I’m still stitching
In Our Own Language 4.
Yes, four.


Nancy, my developmentally disabled sister-in-law draws.
I, the woman who flat-out loves her, stitch her drawings.

87: No Tricks, Just Treats


Dr. Seuss
a convict
a princess or two
Minnie Mouse
the court jester
Robin Hood
a pumpkin
a leprechaun
Captain America
(who stayed pretty close
to the refreshment table)
attended the party.

Several witches were in attendance.
The one with the green face
and long black nose
kept her candy bucket draped
over her left arm
for safekeeping
while her right hand ate popcorn
without stopping.

Some wore helmets
and knee pads
but not as costumes.
They wear helmets and pads every day
cause they tend to fall a lot.

Nobody surveyed the crowd
making snide comments about how
somebody danced
or what they wore
or who they were sitting beside
or how many bags of popcorn they’d already devoured.
These people just rejoiced in being alive,
dancing with each other
dancing in groups
dancing with themselves,
dancing on their feet
dancing in their seats
dancing in their wheelchairs.
And those whose feet don’t work quite right
danced with their hands.

The music was loud
and the music was constant.
Quicker than the best contestant
who ever won Name That Tune,
partygoers went wild with
excitement and enthusiasm
at the sound of The Lazy Song
by Bruno Mars,
flooding the entire room
with joyful gyrations
and gleeful singing along.
Nancy and Mona
and The Leprechaun
and Robin Hood
and I
and sang
at the top of our lungs,
our arms thrown in the air,
our heads turned up to the sky
as we sang about being one big fat
lazy bum,
(something that obviously
has universal appeal).

Those who can speak
sang the words
(theirs or Bruno’s, no matter)
and those who can’t speak
hummed or moaned
or made whatever sound
that just happened to fall out.

We attended Nancy’s Halloween party today,
The Engineer and I did,
and let me tell you:
it was the happiest,
shortest (time just flew by)
most satisfying party I’ver ever been to.

86: Real Estate in my Heart


Several people asked me to marry them around the same time. Five, to be exact.

I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with The Engineer, but because I’d known him the least amount of time (only two months), I sat with my pen and paper and listed the pros and cons of each young man then compared them to my list of things I was looking for in a husband, a life mate. The Engineer won that competition, hands down.

Forty-two years later, I still love everything about him I listed that day. Plus one very important item I didn’t know to list then: Nancy. Marrying Andy brought Nancy into my life, and I’d’ve married him for that one reason alone.

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