Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Beautiful Ohio

We were in Ohio for a few days attending our high school's alumni banquet.  2010 is the 35th anniversary of my high school graduation and I had a blast seeing people I hadn't seen in many years.  For me, many of them went from being crazy high school kids to grandparents in the blink of an eye.  To borrow a phrase from the time-mindblowing, man!

Rick graduated a year ahead of me, so we know all the same people.  The student body totaled about 450 back in those days, so everyone knew everyone and many of our classmate's parents were classmates at the same school.  Except my dad, who was raised Catholic and attended the Catholic high school in town but was still considered a "West Sider" and not quite up to snuff by the nuns who ran the school.  You see, in some places people grow up on the wrong side of the tracks, but we were on what was considered by the townies to be the wrong side of the river-the West Side.  A bunch of ill-educated, ill-mannered country bumpkins who populated the hills and hollers where the land rose up out of the bottoms on the west side of the Scioto River.  We were definitely country, when country wasn't cool.

This was the first trip back without a living parent in the picture.  My family roots are deep in the area.  The Cooper branch goes back to pre-Civil War, but the majority of my ancestors immigrated from Germany in the mid-19th century.  Most were dirt-poor farmers; I can remember visiting their homeplaces as a kid and being amazed at the lives they had created from nothing. My great-grandmother, who was a big part of my childhood, was born in 1881 and was boarded out and worked as a housekeeper as a young woman.  She didn't marry until the age of 22, an old maid for sure in that era.  My grandfather (her son-in-law), used to tell the story that she had been engaged to marry a young man but one day her beau drove to her house in his wagon with another young lady and invited my Granny to his wedding.  What a way to break an engagement!

 Great-grandmother, Elizabeth-back row, right

She went on to marry in 1903 and she and my great-grandfather moved to town so he could work at the local steel mill.  Sadly, she was widowed when my great-grandfather was killed in a horrendous accident at the mill.  She then moved back to the country with her five young children so she could have a cow and a garden and feed her family.  It was a hand to mouth existence augmented by the generosity of relatives and neighbors. The boys left home as soon as they were old enough.  My grandmother, Daisy, had completed the 8th grade when they moved but never attended high school.

Daisy married my grandfather in 1925. They lived in town for awhile but eventually moved to the West Side where they raised their children, 3 biological and one adopted.  They always had "extras" living at their house, various relatives or friends who were going through a rough patch and needed a place to stay and food to eat.  My grandfather was a very tolerant man.  A wonderful country cook, Daisy worked for many years in the cafeteria of the grade school I attended.  Still today people will reminisce with me about her great cooking. 

 Grandmother, Daisy-front row, left

  My grandparents moved my great-grandmother into a house across the street when she was no longer able to keep up the farm and she eventually moved in with them after a fall resulted in a hip fracture.  After recuperating, walked with a cane which was never away from her side. This was a woman who was used to ruling her roost and woe to those who committed an infraction of her rules within reach of her cane.  She couldn't move fast but she could certainly poke you if she could reach you!  Yes, my grandfather was a very tolerant man.

Now there are very few of us left in the area.  I got to see an aunt and an uncle and a few cousins while there but most have moved off for better opportunities in other places, the same search that led our ancestors to the rich and plentiful farmland of southern Ohio and back and forth across the Scioto River.

My trips to Ohio over the last 7 years have been filled with family responsibilities, illnesses and deaths.  There was hardly time to catch a breath and still get everything done.  This time was different.  I could actually sit and enjoy being in what is a very beautiful place.  The wildflowers and butterflies put on a spectacular show and the weather couldn't have been better.

No matter where I am, the hills of southern Ohio will always be a part of me.

And I ate real tomatoes every day.  Thank you, Ohio.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

More on The List

I posted about The List here.  One of the items on my list was improve my Spanish and through a fellow MondoBeyondo-er, I'm getting the opportunity to do just that.  Kimberley is starting an online Spanish course called, Dreaming in Spanish: Connecting Language with Heart  and I get to be one of her primer estudiantes.  I think this first class is filled, but check out her site to find out about future opportunities.

I also have some friends here in town who speak Spanish and have graciously agreed to meet for coffee and Spanish.  It's so much easier to make mistakes in front of friends.

This will be the week to make reservations for the trip to Honduras.  My traveling buddy and I spent Friday morning hammering out details.  I will be helping the medical team for part of the week and also working on the mural.  Some other folks that I've worked with through the years will also be on this trip, so it will be interesting re-establishing those connections.  This is going to be such a great experience in so many ways.

Que tengas un buen día!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Just a Spool of Thread

I had to go to JoAnn Fabrics yesterday.  No really, I had to.  Remember that dress I'm making-no thread, or at least no thread that coordinates with the fabric.  

Just a quick stop for thread.

But of course I had to walk right by the Red Tag fabric and I refuse to pass that up.  There might be something I really need there.  I looked around, but nothing this time.  

As I was leaving the aisle, something in the outdoor fabric section caught my eye.

"The colors are perfect for the Airstream interior."  "But I just recovered the dinette cushions." (This is me, talking to myself.) "But you hate them, and the fabric will never hold up."  "But, the work."  "Every time you walk in the Airstream you think, 'I hate those cushions'. And what does that little sign say?"  "60% off and I really do love this fabric."  Conversation over.

The lines on the flowers and leaves speak to each other and the fabrics relate without being too matchy-matchy.  (Candice Olson language)
So, another project.

I even remembered to get the thread.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

You Can't Make This Stuff Up

This may only be funny if you sew.

I'm in the process of making a dress from a pattern I've never used before.  As the dress has a close-fitting bodice, I wanted to make a test piece out of inexpensive fabric to check the fit. This is typically made of muslin and is therefore called "a muslin."

What's funny about that, you ask?

I was watching People's Court one day (we all have our peccdillos) and the case involved a real housewife (heretofore known as RH) from somewhere suing a dressmaker/couturier for breach of contract.  The dress he was contracted to make for the plaintiff to wear to a society soiree was not completed in time and she then had to rush out and spend more than I've ever spent in a year on clothing for a family of 4 to buy some off the rack piece of crap.  This of course caused her great mental distress because she was humiliated to be seen in this OtR piece of crap.

Still not funny.

When Judge Marilyn was asking about the process and fittings and why it took so long, RH replied:  "I don't know what the hold-up was, but he took measurements and said he had to make an Egyptian!"

There's your funny!