Category Archives: Family News

My Grandson the Dolphin

My Grandson the DolphinNice dorsal fin and the flippers really work

After a little time off – away from my desk – traveling around the country turning my grandson into a dolphin and other such wild sewing activities, I am now back home in Virginia setting up a pretty aggressive sewing class schedule.  We will be hosting some Fabulous Free Furlough Friday Fun Festival (F6) demos beginning in July at Quilt and Sewing Center in Fredericksburg, Virginia.  I have set up some beginning sewing classes that should be fun for everyone.  I am also continuing my series of  Heirloom Notebook Classes and offering some heirloom projects along the way.  One of the most fun project classes is our Heirloom Christmas Stocking with a Twist.  The twist is, if you decide not to make a stocking, we will show you how to take the techniques and design whatever is your fantasy – it might be a pillow, table-runner, baby coverlet, bell-pull – you decide and we will help you design and complete it.  As an added incentive, after the 20 hours of class instruction and some home sewing on your own, we will have a special little wrapped gift for your stocking (or whatever) for everyone who finishes the project by the last class.

Our beginning sewing class schedule is filled with mini-one-day (3-4 hour) classes where you can complete the project before leaving (or with minimal sewing left to do when you get home).  We have placemats, tote bags, sachets, bell-pulls, table runners, etc. planned that will delight your creative side.  If you are in the area, drop by the shop and sign up for some of these little min-classes.

Christmas 2012

What a wonderful trip.  It was awesome visiting with all 3 of my grown-up kids and their spouses and my 6 delightful grandchildren.  Can’t believe I have been gone for almost 4 weeks – that is a new record for being away from my home and pets.  Getting to take another painting lesson with my 2 daughters was priceless – well, at least for me it was – that was part of my Christmas gift from them.  We went to an upscale theater with very plush seats (Violet Crown) to see the story of Alfred Hitchcock’s life during the making of Psycho.  Now I want to see Psycho.  I learned to play some new games (Suspend and 10,000 – commonly called Farckle) and had the wonderful opportunity to paint on the windows using Magic Markers for windows – what a great invention – all kids should have a set of these markers.  Actually, I want to get a set for myself – I’d love to paint on my windows here at home!

I spent most of my time in Texas, when we were not eating and sight-seeing, in the family sewing room making PJ’s and robes for the boys.  After touring the Festival of Lights, on the way home, my 6 year old grandson announced, “No sleeping, Grandma, until my robe is finished.”   They were having a Polar Express Day at school the next day and the kids were to wear PJ’s and robes to school.  Yes, it was a long night, but his robe was finished by morning.  (Growing up, my favorite children’s story was “The Elves and the Shoemaker”.  It was fun playing the part of the Elves!)

We visited Fredericksburg, Texas, since I live near and work in Fredericksburg, Virginia.  What a fun little town – we enjoyed some great German dining and wonderful hand-made chocolates. 

Happy New Year to everyone – it’s nice to be back home and begin planning my next G-ma trip to see the wee-ones again.  Due to some plane malfunctions, in-flight detours, and long waits in airports, I now have a travel voucher to help defray the cost of my next trip.  Texas/PA – here I come again!  Thanks, family, for hosting and putting up with me – what a great holiday!

Sewing – Temporarily on Hold…

Just Ask Rita:  OK – so here’s the thing – yesterday, while I was taking an early morning shower (OK, not so early) a few tiles fell off the wall.  I searched the internet for a way to re-tile the bathroom myself.  I found a site that listed the difficulty level as ‘easy’.  Now, 24 hours into my self-remodeling project, I have a few tips of my own to share with anyone interested. 

Yes, it is an easy process if you follow these 3 simple steps:  first, heat a pot of water; second, call your local handyman; third, sit down to a freshly brewed cup of tea and a good book while your handyman re-tiles your bathroom.  You know what they say about hind-sight?  I must now return to my up-close and personal relationship with wallboard, tiles, mud, and grout!  Oh, what I wouldn’t do for a nice hot shower right about now…and my sewing room is calling me!

My Mom

When I was 4 years old, mom gave me her button box and a spool of heavy carpet thread. She carefully cut the carpet thread into pieces about 8-10 inches long. My task was to sort through the buttons and find all the buttons that were the same color and size and string them together on a string. She showed me how to tie the ends of the strings together. When I was done, her button box was organized and all the like buttons were separated on little circles of strings. After sorting the buttons, I asked mom to teach me to sew a button on a piece of fabric. She carefully threaded a needle for me and taught me how to sew on a button. Thus my love for sewing began! When I was 5 years old, mom taught me how to lay my baby doll on a newspaper to create a pattern. I began making clothes for my doll, embellishing those little garments with hand embroidered flowers and my doll’s name. I still have some of those early doll clothes. While visiting mom and dad in September 2010, she opened up her sewing closet and offered me her button box. I wanted the button basket, but didn’t want to take it from her. She insisted that she wouldn’t need it. In the button basket were some of the little strings of buttons that I had strung 60 years ago. I brought the buttons home and spent some time sorting through the many different shapes and colors, remembering the times I spent sitting on the floor so many years ago, playing with mom’s buttons.

Sadly, mom died on December 19, 2010, just 3 weeks after dad. She was just 2 months shy of her 90th birthday. I was glad that I was able to spend her last couple of weeks with her. Mom was my best friend, confidant, mentor, and now my guardian angel. She was a very special lady, honest, hardworking, and loyal. She taught my sisters and me to sew, knit, crochet, embroider, and cook. She was a strict disciplinarian, but loved us unconditionally. She made our young lives happy as we were growing up. She would tap dance and sing in the kitchen while fixing breakfast to make us laugh. When she studied Spanish, she would write our breakfast menu on the blackboard in Spanish and taught us little phrases and some Spanish songs. She read to us all the time and when I was in the 4th grade, she read the epic, Odyssey. I remember one summer day when we all took our shoes off and went for a long walk in the rain, splashing in puddles and playing with our umbrellas. She made a tent by throwing a blanket over the kitchen table and let us play with buckets of water on the kitchen floor under the tent in order to stay cool on hot summer days. Sometimes she would pack a picnic lunch and give us a blanket and let us go outside under the old cherry tree to eat. She made clay from a recipe and let us mix the color dye into the snow white clay to create wonderful colors of our choice. She let me climb the old cherry tree in our back yard, where I spent endless hours watching the birds above and life below – loving every minute I spent in that tree.

Mom and dad gave us dancing lessons, piano lessons, and sports lessons. They encouraged us and helped us succeed in anything we decided to try. When we were in scouts, mom was the scout leader and trained other leaders while dad was a member of the men’s committee at scout camp, helping to unload the luggage and set up the tents. Mom was always there for us and we knew we could count on her to be the room mother, PTA president, field trip chaperone, and taxi driver. She taught me about nutrition, etiquette, and fair play. Dad taught me how to use his tools and how to wire a lamp and quiz board.

Mom spent her last years caring for dad, knitting lap robes for the veterans, and knitting caps for underprivileged kids. Her goal for 2010 was to knit 100 caps for kids. When she died she was only 13 caps shy of her goal. Mom always cared about the other person more than she cared about herself. If she had something that someone admired or wanted, she gave it to them. Mom, like dad, also donated her body to Boonshoft School of Medicine at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio.

Mom had a keen sense of humor, loved poetry, and appreciated nature. I could always call and ask her advice on anything, knowing I would get the best possible answer. She could put a positive spin on any situation and always made me feel good about myself. She was very wise and super intelligent. She could always make me laugh. She loved her husband, 3 daughters, 3 grandchildren, and 6 great-grandchildren and we all loved her. I shall always miss her – I’ve lost a giant of a friend

My Dad

Dad and Great-grandsons

2006 - Mom and Dad with first 4 Great-grandsons

My dad once said, “If you can sew, you can have anything.” I laughed and asked how I could sew up a new car. He answered, “Sew for money and you can have a new car.”

My dad lost his 4 year battle with cancer on Thanksgiving, in the wee hours of the morning.  He was the epitome of love and gave the world 89 years of happiness.  I never heard him raise his voice in anger, never heard him use profanities, and always saw him treat mom like a lady should be treated.  He was a gentle giant who always loved his family unconditionally, adored his 3 daughters, and delighted in his 3 grandchildren and 6 great-grandchildren.  In 1999 he was inducted into the Ohio Bowling Hall of Fame – what an honor.  He was a life-time member of the Dayton, Ohio Bowling Association and bowled in the national ABC Conventions for 49 years.  He was a tool inspector for NCR and General Motors, free-lance photographer, and an avid golfer, bowler, husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather.  My dad never smoked or drank alcohol and lived a loving, honorable life – always faithful and always there for his family and anyone else in need.  He put everyone else first and his last self-less act was to donate his body to the Boonshoft School of Medicine at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio.  Hopefully they will be able to use his remains to find a cure for prostate and spinal cancer and help others who are afflicted with this terrible disease.  Dad remained cheerful throughout his 4 year ordeal – he will be loved and missed by his family forever.  I may have lost my father and good friend, but my family and I have gained a guardian angel for life.  These are difficult days for all of us, but particularly for mom.  Dad, rest in peace, we love you.