Category Archives: Daily Prompts

Grandma’s Handmade Quilt

By Hand

What’s the best present you’ve ever received that was handmade by the giver, not store-bought? Tell us what made it so special.

Grandma made a quilt for each of her grandkids.  These were mainly hand sewn, with some machine sewing, but all hand-quilted.

I got mine in 1981, when I got married.  I used it often, for many years.  I just now tried to find an old snapshot of it, and unfortunately, the only one I have, the quilt is folded on a table.

Mine started fraying, tearing, and tattering to the point I could no longer use it.  Although it was beyond repair, I saved it in my closet, and then in my mother-in-laws cedar chest.   No matter how torn or tattered, I just couldn’t throw it out!

A couple years ago, I got a bunch of old well-used quilts when cleaning Dad’s house after Mom died, so I decided to cut out the good parts and make old quilt throws.  My sister let me have her quilt for this purpose, too.

When I was cutting up my quilt, I found a block that Grandma had written in green ink – Made by Clara Niemann, 1980.  I don’t remember ever seeing it before!

Made by Clara

I mixed up the blocks in each throw, and was able to make 5 throws,  but to be sure, I kept the one with the block she signed.

Right now, I’m working on a Grandmother’s Fan quilt from blocks I think she started.  I finally have it all assembled and have even started quilting it.  Like the Butterfly Handkerchief quilt, I don’t know what I plan to do with it, again, not having a guest bed to display quilts I want to cherish and preserve.

After a couple hours of quilting, wondering what I was going to do with this quilt that I’ve put 100+ hours or so into (not to mention all the hours she put in cutting and sewing the tiny fan blades!), knowing I will preserve it as best I can (which means washing it as little as possible and not leaving it in a sunlit room), I wondered if someday, someone, my grandchild or great grandchild, will still have this quilt and think of me.

I think they will.

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Because . . Things Change

Let It Be

A restaurant that removed your favorite item from the menu, a bad cover of a great song… Write a post about something that should’ve been left untouched, but wasn’t. Why was the original better?

Many of us remember New Coke.  Why Coca-Cola made that change still baffles many.  It wasn’t long before Coke Classic came back.  New Coke stuck around for a while, but not long.

I have over the course of my 53 years, run into this MANY times.  I probably won’t be able to recall them all here, but I’ll give it a shot.

Peppermint Tootsie Roll Pops

These were a thing in the late 80’s or early 90’s and came out around Christmas.  Everyone in my family loved them.  Then, one year, we got them, and they didn’t taste the same.  They weren’t as “creamy” or something.  It’s a hard thing to describe when you don’t have the original to compare to the new version.  We just knew they weren’t the same.

Soda made with high fructose corn syrup instead of sugar

So, supposedly you can’t tell the difference, but when we tried, what was it called, Retro Pepsi, we could so tell.

Oatmeal Swirls

This was a thing in the 80’s and early 90’s as well.  You had instant oatmeal in various fruit flavors, even tried chocolate, and it came with packets of a jelly like substance that you drizzled over the top of the oatmeal once it was ready for consumption.  One day, it just disappeared off the store shelf never to return.

Brach’s Cinnamon Discs

I’d buy these to put in the candy jar at work every so often, because even though more expensive, as there are other cinnamon discs of lesser taste and cheaper (still okay, not great).  I truly believed these were THE BEST, far superior to others.  Until a few months ago.  The taste is “flatter” for lack of better word, and the coloring is not as rich or deep or something.  I wrote an email to the company, and they actually responded that they had just moved the cinnamon disc making operation to a new factory and that the equipment there wasn’t “seasoned” enough yet, but that they had done taste tests, and no one could tell the difference.  Really?  I thought, “Didn’t you just read and respond to my email telling you otherwise?”  I will miss this confection.

Cinnamon Candy Canes

I LOVE these things.  I used to be able to find them every Christmas, even if I had to ask and go to a few different stores to find them.  Now, they seem to have disappeared altogether.  Where have all the cinnamon candy canes gone?

 Everything Shrinks

Remember when toilet paper always had 200 or 300 or 400 sheets per roll, and now, they don’t.   And let’s not stop there – M&M’s used to be in a 2 lb bag and now it’s 24 oz.  Or, anything really –  cereal, potato chips, cans or bags of coffee, a half gallon of ice cream, snack bars –  just to name a few. Then, they create a new “mega” or “jumbo” or “family” or “party size”.  Pay more, get less. Woo hoo!

And now let’s touch on some things that seem to be the same, maybe they actually are.

Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Shampoo – same fragrance, color and harshness.  No more tears, really?  Did you ever get this in your eyes?  But, still, seems the same as 30 years ago.

Baby Magic lotion – What baby doesn’t smell like heaven after a bath and an application of this ambrosial pink goo? Yes, you can buy the “unscented” version, though I’m not sure why you’d want to.

Dawn dish soap – It comes in ultra and many colors and scents, but the basic blue is still available and still works well as a degreaser.

Blue Bell Ice Cream – I have to take a moment here to mention my favorite ice cream (even if I still can’t get it without traveling to  – Indiana?) Still a full half gallon, and the home made vanilla tastes the same to me as it did 20 years ago.  I miss you, Blue Bell, when are you coming to Illinois?

 

 

Memorization – a lost art?

By Heart

You’re asked to recite a poem (or song lyrics) from memory — what’s the first one that comes to mind? Does it have a special meaning, or is there another reason it has stayed, intact, in your mind?

In previous times, it paid to have a decent memory, to be able to memorize addresses, phone numbers, famous quotes or passages from books.

These days, cell phones store all frequently called numbers and addresses to where you can barely remember your spouse’s or even your own phone number! And, with GPS, you don’t even have to remember how to drive to someone’s house, it will tell you. (Though it pays to recall that 900 feet is about 1/5 of a mile or about 3 city blocks.)

The internet provides instant gratification when trying to remember what World Series the Cardinals beat the Rangers in, who directed E.T., or how old Barbra Streisand is – all of which are rather unimportant pieces of information, no?

Still, memorization is hard for some, easier for others, and cells phones and internet notwithstanding, can be somewhat useful, or at least add some depth to yourself.  For me, I think my memorization skills lie somewhere in the middle of the curve.

I’ve never been very good at reciting anything from memory.  I used to have to memorize Bible passages for Sunday school.  I did alright, because I finally figured out how to do it.  Break it down.  Remember one phrase at a time, then when you have that one, go on to the next few words. (p.s. I rather dislike quoting Bible passages to people or those that quote them to me, and especially when one knows the chapter and verse! See last quote below.)

Still, I am in awe of mostly television and movie characters who can recite whole stanzas of poems or songs, or better yet, passages out of classic literature, off the top of their head, at just the right dramatic moment.  How do they do that? Oh, right, writers, like me.

I wonder how people in plays learn all of their lines, especially those lead characters!

As I hear a song, I can recall the words precisely, maybe it’s the music that helps with the memory?  But, if asked to recite a song, I’d probably be able to do so, but I’d be singing it in my head.

I’ve always meant to put “memorize favorite poems or pieces of literature” on my “to do” list, but somehow it always gets pushed to the bottom as more “important” things need to be done.

I have made it a point to memorize certain quotes, even though I may not be able to tell you who said it.  Let’s see if I can recall some here.  I swear, I’m not looking these up on another internet tab.

Margaret Thatcher – I always cheer up immensely when attacked personally, because I figure my opponent has no political argument left. (I don’t have that one down pat, but you get the gist.)

Vision Quest (movie) – You should love people like there’s no tomorrow, because when you get right down to it, there isn’t.

Professor Irwin Corey (on Carol Burnett show) – It’s good to have an open mind, but not so open that your brains fall out.

G.I. Jane (the movie) – A bird will fall frozen, dead from a tree, without ever having felt sorry for itself.

And, now, I’m going to cheat, because I read “The Go-Between” when I was in high school, and this one passage has always stuck with me for some reason.

“I disliked the levelling aspect of this sinnerdom, it was like a cricket match played in a drizzle, where everybody had an excuse – and what a dull excuse! – for playing badly.”

Go here for the whole quoted passage (worth it if this quote speaks to you.)

I found that quote in about 10 seconds with a Google search.  Is memorization a lost art?  Does it have a place in a wired world?

Maybe I should probably memorize that “Go-Between” quote.  I’ll put it on my “to do” list (which is on my iPad) right now . .

Because . . . Mom’s not here to verify

Trio No. 3

Today you can write about anything, in whatever genre or form, but your post must mention a dark night, your fridge, and tears (of joy or sadness; your call). 

Saturday night, October 25, 2014.  I should be happy. right?  It’s Saturday after all!  Well, according to the Bay City Rollers, I should be ” dancin’ to the rock and roll” or Elton John, I should “Get about as oiled as a diesel train.”

Instead, I’m up late, even though it’s been a long, tiring week.  My daughter visiting with the grandchildren was wonderful, but also so tiring.  Am I getting old or what?

Laying on the sofa relaxing, I turn on the TV, and once again try to watch “The Dead Zone” with Christopher Walken.  I really do like that movie, but, for some reason, it puts me to sleep every time now.  I wake up after the movie is over. I don’t remember what was on then, but I get up, go to the bathroom, and walk into the kitchen.

I see out into the scarcely visible backyard.  Is there a moon tonight?  I don’t see it.  Maybe it’s a new moon or a thumbnail moon.

I hear the refrigerator running, the humming of it and the sort of ticking sound it makes.  I wonder what that is.  Is it the ice maker? I hear the ice drop, and a few seconds later the water runs to refill the ice tray.

Standing at the sink, I get a drink of tap water, and remember the events of the day.

I chuckle softly once about the sour cream/buttermilk debate, and remember going outside and the tears I shed.  I knew at the time I started crying it wasn’t about the sour cream.  It was about one of my kids going through a hard time.  I remembered  coming back inside and saying to my daughter (now a mom and she always tells me, “Now, I get it.” about being a mom and how it feels), “You NEVER stop feeling your kids pain.  Never.”

I start to tear up and remember the sour cream debate, and another thing occurs to me.  Why did I not realize this before?  Was this feeling there and I just didn’t recognize it?  Was it covered up from my other feelings for my kid going through a hard time?

Even though I still have tears in my eyes, I snicker, once, and then realize – it wasn’t about the sour cream, and it wasn’t ALL about my kid.  It was also about the fact that the one person who could straighten us all out wasn’t here to tell us, “I’ve used both at different times.”

Now, more than a few tears come, blurring my view to the obscured backyard, lit only slightly by the street lamp through the large maple tree blocking it.

It’s been six and a half years, and most of the time, I don’t think about it much.  But sometimes, often caught off-guard, I miss my mom insanely, as if she had just died yesterday.    Why do we miss people madly just after they pass and for months after only to somehow “get over it” – seemingly for a time just to have it smack us unsuspecting  at the oddest moments?

I cry more, and wipe my eyes, and sob, and say aloud to the sleeping house, knowing full well it isn’t about the silly debate, “Mom, I wish you here to verify this!”

 

Life-Changing Moments

Grand Slam

The World Series starts tonight! In your own life, what would be the equivalent of a walk-off home run? (For the baseball-averse, that’s a last-minute, back-against-the-wall play that guarantees a dramatic victory.)

My daughter has a saying, usually about trying a new or different food stuff – “It’s life-changing…”

I’m not sure I have ever felt that way about food, although some of these morsels were quite delectable.

When first approaching this subject, I was hard pressed to come up with my own “walk-off home runs.”

It also brought up sad memories of just such an occasion on October 27, 2011 – Game 6 of the World Series between the Texas Rangers at the St. Louis Cardinals (yes, I was there and a Rangers fan).  David Freese had such a moment, much to my chagrin. 😦

Anyway, when it comes right down to it, and I’m not usually one to do this, I have to say my moments were when I was pregnant with each of my children. Each and every one of them has had a huge impact on my life, and I wouldn’t trade them for anything, even though it hasn’t always been easy. They are each uniquely different and special in their own way and have enhanced and enriched my life in equally different ways.

As Forest Gump would say, “That’s all I got to say about that.”

 

Reader’s Anonymous or RA

Reader’s Block

What’s the longest you’ve ever gone without reading a book (since learning how to read, of course)? Which book was it that helped break the dry spell?

Another wonderfilled topic!

I have a problem. Yes, I will freely admit it.  If I start reading a book that interests me in the least, I can’t put the book down except to eat and sleep, almost. Yes, I’ll go to work, make dinner, take showers, but all other household duties will be procrastinated to the absolute last minute until I finish the last page of said novel(s).

For this reason, sometimes I can go a year or four without reading a book.  I wish I could be one of those people that can read a book a few pages here and there between all the other things that NEED to be done or a few pages before bed.  Unfortunately, for me, those other things, when I really think about it, don’t NEED to be done right this minute and can wait, and so can bedtime.

Call it obsessive, call it compulsive, whatever it is, I know I have had this problem since I was a teenager.  I have another related problem, too.

I like series of books.

Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice, Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean Auel, Harry Potter by J.K. Rowlings,  Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, Stephanie Meyers – Twilight, Dan Brown, and Suzanne Collins, Hunger Games.  Not to mention those I can’t imagine getting into like the Bourne series, Jack Ryan – Tom Clancy, Sue Grafton (A is for Alibi, etc.), J.R.R. Tolkien, Divergent, Chronicles of Narnia, Lemony Snicket, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Sherlock Holmes, the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew. Oh my gosh, I just realized I’d like to read some of those series!

Because of this sickness, I plan accordingly. I don’t pick up a book or visit the library unless I have the time to, well, I hate to call it waste, more like spend, right? If I have lots going on, the library is off limits unless it’s a book I need at the moment, like a quilting book or a book on mediation – something I’m currently learning, something I can read or skim one book for, and get one with it.

Once every few  years or more, I read Gone With the Wind.  I’ve done this since high school.  I’m about due for another read.

So, yeah, there is no “breaking of a dry spell”.  I bloody well know my limitations.  When I’m dang good and ready to devote pretty much my life to reading a novel or series of them, I’ll do so, but I just can’t do it ALL the time.

Yes, I just finished the Outlander Series again, but I think it’s been 2 or 3 years since I did one of my marathon reads.  Will it be that long until the next one?  Who knows?

Can  you recommend a good series?

 

 

 

Tea for Two or Three

Counting Voices

A lively group discussion, an intimate tête-à-tête, an inner monologue — in your view, when it comes to a good conversation, what’s the ideal number of people?

We have all been in group meetings, office business lunches, friends and family get-togethers, parties, restaurants, bars and clubs, and such.  You recall the bee-hive like hum of voices in large group settings when you step out into the hall. And, as you open the doors to go back in, how the noise is so overwhelming you feel like you can’t even hear yourself think?

At almost all of the above, except a business meeting, people break off into groups of 2 or more, usually not more than 5 or so, right?  And, even then, in any one group, only one person can do that talking at one time.  Have you ever actually not felt like talking and just hovered on the outskirts of a group, just listening and/or watching?

So, for heartfelt, intimate conversation, two would be optimum, no?  3, 4 or even 5 can still be a pretty nice conversation, but probably doesn’t lend itself as well to close encounters.

And, what’s this about inner monologue?  Doesn’t “mono” mean one?  Let me think, do I have conversations with myself and there is more than one voice inside my head?  No, I don’t think so, unless I actually pretend such.  How that that bode with the saying “It’s okay to talk to yourself as long as you don’t answer”? But, isn’t that the point of talking to yourself? To hash things out, come up with solutions, better understand a situation or your own feelings on the matter?

Here’s a better question – is it just me or do some of these daily prompts kind of (well, there is no better word for it) suck?

And, now back to quilting.  Yes, I’m actually working on a quilt throw of blocks my mother did.  I have the top sewn and have now started quilting.  Unfortunately, I still haven’t found someone to piece things for me so I can stick with my favorite part of quilting – free-motion machine quilting.  I’ll probably spend less time quilting than cutting, piecing and sewing.  Aww, yes, poor me, right?

I’ll put up pictures as soon as I am finished, which will probably be within the next couple days.