Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Patriarchal Blessings

Jews have the bar mitzvah.
Catholics have the confirmation.
But Protestants? We lack a rite of passage ceremony for the 12-13 year old male.

So, in lieu of a church-wide acknowledgment and blessing, I invited my dad, my husband, and my two grown sons--all of whom are loyal followers of Jesus Christ--to bring a blessing to Joel's birthday party.

Just after eating cake and ice cream,my 80-year-old dad read these words that he had written:

To my grandson... this is my blessing;

May you continue to be true to your commitment to Jesus,  and faithful in keeping God's commandments.

May you always be:
         Eager to learn
         Wise in your decisions
         Pure in your thought life
         Fair in your judgments
         Clean and well kept in your grooming
         And honorable in your dealings with others.

Let others judge you not so much for your accomplishments as for your character.

Don't be envious of evil people,  and don't desire to be with them.
For their minds are occupied with violence, and they speak of making trouble. (Prov. 24:1)

I commend to you the Apostle Paul's words to Timothy:

     Here is a statement you can trust:
           If we have died with Him [Jesus]
                we will also live with Him;
           If we persevere,
                 we will also rule with Him.

          If we disown Him
          He will also disown us .
          If we are faithful,
          He remains faithful
          For He cannot disown Himself.  (II Tim 2:11-13)

Always know that I am proud of you and hold in high esteem.

This is my blessing to you on this 17th day of March, 2105.

Lyle. L. Dauber

--to be continued with other blessings from family members--

Monday, March 23, 2015

13th Birthday Party Prep

At long last, the post about the birthday party that never seemed to happen. But it did. The birthday boy, Joel,  turned 13 on Valentine's Day; his party was rescheduled several times for snowy weekends. Finally my daughter had the brilliant idea that we celebrate on a mid-week evening,  and so we landed on St. Patrick's Day. 

I had bought the blue and white partyware in February, per Joel's choice. It fit the snowy theme back then but felt a tad odd on March 17th. Oh well.  Most people wore green, so that worked. The red heart cookie cutter was my nod to February 14th.  Those wooden numbers from Michael's are leaning against two cups supported by glass votives inside. Simple, simple. 

Normally I fix Mexican or Italian fare when the extended family come over because we have three vegetarians .But I was so tired of that; had to break out of my mold sooner or later, so why not when my son becomes a teenager? A lot of things change at that magical age, right? 

I made the mistake of asking  tossed  my menu question out to my quilting chat board friends as to what I could serve that was different, easy, and still accommodating to the restricted diets. "That's easy," said one of the ladies, who is a gourmet cook. Beware when that type says "Easy." What they mean is "looks simple but takes all day."  She suggested Florentine stuffed portabello mushrooms. But of course.  She said I could also butterfly the chicken breast, wrap them in Saran wrap, pound them thin, and stuff them with the same filling.  Umm, yeah. No.  I decided to do chicken Marsala in the crock pot so it could slow cook while I got other things done. 

You know--SOMEONE has to clean bathrooms, sweep floors, decorate,  and take a shower  ,not to mention pick up the boy after school. 

People coming after work would be HONGRY, perhaps even HANGRY, so I needed a sweet/salty/protein/colorful appetizer to hold them over.  Something easy to put in these Valentine cupcake papers (that I've had for three years). 

Strawberries, blueberries, and walnuts. A big hit. 

No sooner had everyone sat down than my baby niece decided it would be fun to scoop up all the silverware as fast as she could. Like a competitive sport, except she had no competitors, just spectators. 

And she loved dangling asparagus from her mouth to make us laugh. 

I'll have to try that next time things get too serious around here. 

Joel had chosen a red velvet box cake--no icing. He didn't even want me to 
dust it with powdered sugar which I desperately wanted to do. 
I had to be content with the fact that honoring someone means 
doing it their way, not yours. 
My dear friend Bonnie asked how she could help on the day of the party. I asked her if she'd be willing to make the cake, and she did. It turned out perfectly. What  blessing to have friends who really mean it when they say, "I'd like to help." She lives one street over and we bail each other out all the time.  Now I wish I'd asked her to do the Florentine stuffed mushrooms. The store didn't have 6 big fungus steaks, only small, so I was scooping the gills out of 24 baby bellas with the handle of a spoon.  While wilting spinach on the stove and shredding carrots and chopping mushroom stems and 
dicing red pepper and wondering why the heck we didn't just go to  a restaurant. Come on, if you've hosted anything and your feet are hurting, your heart is heavy, and your clock is ticking away, you've
thought the same thing. 

My heart was heavy because of who was missing. See the lady wearing the scarf? That's Valeria. Her husband Andrey died from liver cancer last April. He was a precious friend. She happened to be here 
on furlough from Birobidzhan (far east Russia)  staying with my parents. This was really the only smile I saw all night from her. The light has gone out of her eyes. 

But back to the birthday boy. 

Mr. 13. 

 The hair. Oh, my, he loves it longer than I do.  The fights that ensue when I say it's time for a haircut are worse than PMS, believe me. 

The joys of teenagers, right? 

He says his hair is his confidence.
His confidence shows in his face, huh?  But oh, I love my boy with a fierce passion, regardless of his stubbornness .  He is so much like his father his mother his oldest brother his mother.

Well, hair isn't the only thing getting long, so I'll save the Blessing portion of the party for tomorrow, in which the grandfather, grandmother, father, and brothers speak. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Fried Green Brains in the Hodgepodge

Well, we FINALLY had our son's 13th birthday party last night, and I am totally, completely, absolutely wiped out but happy. We were blessed that 13 people were here. How cool was that? I'll share all about it in  post of its own, but for now, 
I'm going to put my feet up and answer Joyce's Green Hodgepodge questions. 

I'm too tired to be wordy.  

1. Share a favorite song, book, or movie title containing the word green?

I've always loved the Anne of Green Gables books.  

2. Ralph Waldo Emerson is quoted as saying, 'Shallow men believe in luck. Strong men believe in cause and effect.' Would you agree? Are you a believer in luck?

I don't believe in luck. I believe in the sovereignty of God. He orchestrates everything in heaven and on earth, and under the earth. 
I don't even like to hear "good luck" from a fellow Christian because it smacks of random chance vs. the power of the Almighty in a situation. 

3. Spring water, Hot Springs, handspring, spring fling, spring break, spring fever, offspring...which 'spring' word best applies to something in your day, week, or life right now?

Offspring.  All four of mine plus half of my parents' offspring were here last night for the party. And my baby sister's one offspring was the life of the party. When everyone was getting loud, she'd put her hand over her little lips and say "Shhhh!" And everyone would hush. It was the funniest thing.  

4. What's something you do to make yourself look or feel more confident?

Get a haircut or at least style my hair out of my face. Having hair that grows as fast as mine is both a blessing and a curse when it comes to my sense of confidence. It takes a good cut, a strategic blow drying effort, a sometimes a hair straightener, and some aerosol action to keep it where I want it. 

5.  It's National Celery Month...are you a fan? If so, what's a snack or dish you enjoy that calls for celery?

I like celery, but wouldn't say I'm a fan. I mean, I wouldn't buy tickets to a celery concert or stand in a long line for a stalk of celery to sign a cookbook at Barnes & Noble.  But I do like the crunch and color and sweet, calorie-free of it.  My favorite dish with celery is my mom's Waldorf salad, with grapes, celery, apples, and other stuff . She brings it for Thanksgiving in a gorgeous Haviland china bowl. Talk about  elevating the status of the humble veggie. 

6. What's one thing you wish you'd learned sooner?

To get rid of stuff that I don't need, love, or want.    

The root of it was lack of trust in God for provision when I need something.   I have learned to trust him more and more and more as my Father who sees and knows and cares and has the power and desire to provide for all my needs.  Getting rid of stuff is so freeing and such a practical way of saying, "I trust you , God." And it's a way of making sure you're living in the present, not the past , and not the future. 

7. Would you like to own a second home? If so where would you want that home to be?

No, I would not. Owning just one home has enough blessings and troubles for me.  I can only live in one at a time, and neither my husband nor I have the personalities to be landlords.   And when you own a second home that's in a desirable location for vacationing, you run the risk of people using you. I don't want friends who want me for my stuff.

Hypothetically, if I were inclined to own a second home , it would be in Bethany Beach ,Delaware. I could count on the offspring coming to visit "us" (ahem) if we had a big gathering spot near the sand and surf. 

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

I have no random thought right now.  I don't even a well-planned thought. My brain is fried.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Monday Morning Medley

I'm feeling overwhelmed this morning. Logistics and emotions are colliding and I would prefer to shrink up into a ball with my face in the corner, sucking my thumb.

What's going on, you ask?  In no particular order:

1. My son's 13th birthday is finally able to happen tomorrow, no snow in the forecast. We've postponed this thing so many times, I thought he'd have his driver's license first.

2.  The fact that he's 13 is making me a little sad. I waited and prayed for him for 10 long years before he was born, and if you've ever waited to birth a child full-term that long, you understand that it feels like 100 years. But the past 13 years?  They feel like 13 days and yet my son is now taller than me and can't wait for his voice to change.

3. I'm having a house full of family over tomorrow, plus a dear friend of the family who is visiting from Birobidzhan.  Valeria lost her husband last April, to liver cancer, very quickly, and we loved him so much .  I will be sad to see her alone without Andrey.

4.  My friend Renee' continues to fight her own cancer battle. She's such a trooper, though. Would I be so strong if I were the one with the disease?

5.  The family that my daughter nannies for is precious to her and they are moving in a month, pending inspection on the house they just sold. Sarah loves those kiddoes, and so do I.   I'm sure tears will fall a few times from several eyes in the next month-six weeks.

6.  My daughter will be jobless. She is really seeking God on this, plus praying for marriage (the desire of her heart) and yet is not wasting her single years. She decided to delete her Facebook account in order to give what free time she has to God's Kingdom. What an inspiration she is to me!

7.  I'm trying two new recipes tomorrow, one for the vegetarians and one for the carnivores .  I hope all goes well.

8.  I could use prayer for peace. I feel overwhelmed. I said that, right?

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Bitter and Sweet in the Hodgepodge

Once more, Joyce has given us seven questions to ponder and answer. Click the cute button above if you don't know what I'm talking about. And please join in; we love company. 

1. What's the first image that comes to mind when you hear the word 'spring'? Which phrase

 best describes the season of spring where you live right now (today)-sprung! almost there, 

or still waiting?

First image that comes to my mind when I hear the word "spring" would be robins, then crocuses, daffodils, and tulips, in that order.   But daffodils make my mind "spring back" (not forward!) to the day I gave birth to my first child.  In a couple weeks, he will be 27 years old.

Where we live, I do believe that spring sprang yesterday. Even though there are still patches of snow everywhere, the birds are declaring that spring has arrived. 

2. Bed, couch, stapler, garage door, computer mouse, recliner, flashlight, door knob...which

 household item containing springs most needs replacing in your home? Speaking of 

springs...did you ever own a Slinky?

Garage door needs replacing.  Yes, I owned a Slinky. I remember watching it 

crawl down our long, wooden staircase in the parsonage when I was 9 years 

old. Very cool toy. 

3. March is Women's History Month. Share a favorite quote by a woman.

This woman and I share a birthday: 

4. What's a question that looms large in your mind right now?

The question that looms largest is so close to my heart that I can't even write it in on paper, let alone here on the internet.  

So I'll give you the one that's looming large but doesn't choke me up.  "What can I be doing to love Jesus more?"

5. Are you a sugar freak? By that I mean how much do you love sugar? With all 

the bad press sugar gets these days, have you made any efforts to reduce the 

amount of sugar you consume?

I am definitely a sugar freak and have made no real efforts lately to reduce my intake. 

6. Would you rather have less work to do or more work you enjoy doing?

The latter.  Vocationally I would gladly take on more tutoring students.  I love teaching.  Avocationally, I have enough quilts in my head to keep me busy till I die. 

7. Ever been to Texas? Of the top ten Texas tourist attractions which would you most like to 

see-The Alamo, The San Antonio River Walk, The State Capital, Dallas World Aquarium,

 Padre Island National Seashore, Houston Space Center, Schlitterbahn Waterpark in New 

Braunfels, Six Flags Fiesta Texas,  Moody Gardens, or Galveston Island?

As a matter of fact, my older sister lives in New Braunfels, so I have been to Texas. Unfortunately, the week we were there in September of 1999, I was having my second miscarriage, so my memories are all bittersweet. I have been to most of those places, and all are associated with both beauty and loss. The Alamo--I couldn't concentrate on the placards; I was holding back tears. The River Walk? Beautiful, but I had to stop often to rest. Padre Island was good for my soul--to be near the God who loved me even though He was taking my baby back to Himself before I was ready.  Six Flags? Umm, I mostly sat while waiting for Paul and the kids to ride the rides. We went to Schlitterbahn and that was somewhat of a good distraction to me, but there were babies and strollers everywhere; that was hard.   To tell you how time flies, my nephew is now a lifeguard at Schlitterbahn in the summer. 

Sorry to get all melancholy on you, but this is where the Hodgepodge sometimes takes us when we least expect it, right? 

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

As I'm writing this, it's Tuesday, March 10th.  My first son, Ben,  and daughter-in-law, Deirdra,  have been married three years today.   Gosh, three years. Seems like three months ago that I was blogging about their wedding.   

 They have a sweet marriage; we are the richer for having Deirdra in our family. 

Monday, March 09, 2015

Seven Up Medley on Monday

Good Monday morning to you. I do believe I hear birds singing the tunes of the Beach Boys. It's hard to tell exactly what they're saying but it's got "sunshine" in the lyrics. All I know is, there are about 36 degrees of separation between today and last week.

(Last week)

My neighbor and his brother were building a snow man and snow fort for their little girl. I'm thinking they may have enjoyed it more than she did.

My deck table could have supplied enough more snow for a whole snow family.

1.  My friend Renee' had really wanted to go to a youth retreat with her kids this past weekend,  but her oncologist advised against being around all those germs.   She has been so isolated and was feeling low on Saturday.  She wanted help cleaning and she wanted company. So a mutual friend and I went over in the afternoon, and together the three of us handled the dusting, vacuuming,  and bathroom cleaning.  It felt so good and smelled so good.

2. We stayed and talked and got some carryout fried chicken (a rare treat) and Liz brought some movies to pick from.  We were having ourselves a regular girls' night out, except that we stayed in.
Hey, you roll with life's punches, right? And cancer is one of life's punches, a really hard-hard punch. We punched back, popped the 1980s movie "Overboard" in, and passed the Krispy Kreme donuts around. Kurt Russell, Goldie Hawn, and sugar--what a great trifecta for three middle-aged friends to enjoy on a cold March night.

3.  Did I mention that we didn't start the movie till 10:00 pm? I didn't leave until after we took a few pictures when the movie ended .   Didn't get home till 1:15 a.m.

4.  I totally forgot till midnight that Daylight Savings Time started the next day and I had to get up for church.  Sometimes life punches you in the internal clock.  Sometimes in the external clock. When both collide, it can make for a sluggish Sunday. And Monday.

5.  Today I'm making (or hoping to make) some custom burp cloths for a mom in our Bible study.
I want it longer than usual because the "normal" size from the package don't cover enough if that spit-up goes projectile, ya know?   I need to go buy some cute boy prints. Twist my arm to get me in the fabric store. I'm also going to try to make some bibs.

6.   I might be overly ambitious considering today is the Monday after Daylight Savings Time Sunday that followed a Girls' Night In on Saturday, but the shower is tomorrow (Tuesday). It was a last minute plan for a shower and it's at the new mom's house. (She was given the choice of going out or having us in. She chose having us.)

7.  I did manage to get a charity baby quilt sandwiched yesterday. When I have it bound and quilted I'll post the picture. I'm trying to get brave and do some quilting that's not in my comfort zone.  To be honest, the quilting phase is my least favorite of all the phases of making a quilt.

An old TV show was called "Eight is Enough" but I think Seven is Enough for today, don't you?

Have a great rest of the day, whatever zone you're in. Operative word being REST.

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

March Fourth and Conquer Grammar in the Hodgepodge

1. 'In like a lion, out like a lamb'...does the first part of this saying describing March weather ring true  where you live? 

Absolutely, positively, unfortunately, yes.  If you want details, check AccuWeather for Maryland. But I don't think you need details.

It's time for someone to take de lion by de tail and fling him back to the safari. If he doesn't, I will !  African temperatures and perpetual sunshine sound upROARiously blissful right now.

That being said, spring will come. It always has and always will. We do what we have to do to get through the doldrums, we hope for green grass and blue skies, and we love our snow days off school and the delayed openings thereof. 

2. March 4th is National Grammar Day. What common grammatical error bothers you the most? 

Oh, boy. Is it really National Grammar Day? Hooray! I must make a cake to celebrate! I would put a candle in it to mark each of the following grammatical errors that bother me, because I can't pick just one.

There are just to, two, too many.   Speaking of to, two,  and too, it bothers me when I see people write "too" when they mean "to."

Incorrect:  Icy roads scare me too death.  
Correct: Icy roads scare me to death. 

 "Too" means "also" or "excessively," so  think of the extra "o" as being your clue.

Another one is the classic misuse of  "your" and "you're."  People, why is it so hard to understand that an apostrophe means that a letter has been left out?   "You're" is "you are" with the "a" left out. "You're going to remember these hints for your next writing task, aren't you?"  Are not you?

But, the error that makes me grind my teeth is seeing the apostrophe used to make a plural.  Why do people DO that?  I don't get it at all. Why is  it so hard to simply add an "s" (or "-es" if it's the proper spelling)?

Incorrect: My grandkid's are the best thing in my life.
Correct: My grandkids are the best thing in my life.
Incorrect: Apple's $1.39/lb.
Correct: Apples $1.39/lb

In speaking, the grammatical errors that causes electrical synapses to misfire in my whole body is this one: starting a sentence with "me."

Me and Alex want to hang out after school.
Me and Jenny laughed so hard watching that video.

People, remember it's rude to put yourself first. Rude and unclassy.  Put the other person first and you won't make this moral OR grammatical mistake.

Alex and I want to hang out.
Jenny and I laughed.

While I'm at it, don't abuse me or I,  either.

"My parents gave John and I  some wonderful wedding gifts."  NO.
Leave out the "John and" to figure out what's correct.
"My parents gave I some ....gifts" ?  No.  "My parents gave...me some gifts." Yes!
"My parents gave John and me some wonderful gifts."

By the way, my parents gave me the gift of using good grammar in our home, which outlasts wedding gifts and rarely needs to be dusted or vacuumed.

3. William Arthur Ward says- 'The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.' Which one are you?


4. What's something you need to 'march forth and conquer' this month?

Cleaning out some drawers and bookshelves that I've become blind to, but my hubby hasn't.

5. An ongoing debate around here...do you dust first, then vacuum or vacuum first, then dust?  

I have heard that debated, too, but I think as long as they both get done, what's the big deal? Dusting first makes most sense to me, because you knock dust down, wipe off crumbs and such, from the top down. The floor catches those things and then you vacuum. Yes, I know , the vacuum scatters dust particles, but I can't see them so it's okay.  Poor grammar bothers me way worse than dust or clutter, can you tell?

Of the two routine household chores, which do you dislike the least? How's that for wording? Wow, Joyce, that wording was too  (to, two) much like a math problem about trains leaving Chicago and New York.  I don't mind vacuuming; it's actually rewarding.  I hate dusting. And I do not like math on a train or on a bus, on a boat or on a plane...

6. According to thrilllist.com, the ten most photographed sites in the U.S.A. are-Cinderella's Castle in Orlando, Southernmost House in Key West Florida, The Space Needle in Seattle, The Site of the Boston Massacre in Boston, The Bellagio Lake/fountains in Las Vegas, The Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC, Coit Tower in San Fransisco, The Art Institute of Chicago, Niagara Falls, and snagging the number one spot-The Guggenheim Museum in New York City. 

How many on this list have you photographed? Which on the list would you most like to visit and photograph?

Two.  (Boy, this is a theme today, huh?) I've only photographed Cinderella's Castle and the Lincoln Memorial.

7. Fifty years ago Monday (March 2, 1965) The Sound of Music premiered at the Rivoli Theatre in NYC. Have you seen the film? Do you own a copy? On a scale of 1-10 how much do you love it (or not)? Ten=best movie ever. If you're a fan, what's your favorite scene or song from the movie? 

I've seen the movies dozens of times. We girls memorized the sound track from the record in the 70s.  (By the way, it is correct either way to write "70s" or "70's" because they're decades; go figure.)  If you're (you are) too young (excessively not old) to remember (to+remember) records, they were like CDs  (plural, no apostrophe needed).

But I digress.  On a 1-10 scale, The Sound of Music is a 10. 

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Two thoughts aren't too many to write, right?

1. If you are a praying person, please pray for the salvation of my brother-in-law.  It is clear that God is pursuing him.

2. A friend of mine said she was going to order  this t-shirt (which, ironically, is missing a period at the end. Grr.)


Monday, March 02, 2015


When my youngest son was two years old, he still wasn't talking. He had three teenage siblings, all of whom were homeschooled, which meant they spent a lot of time with him. We could understand almost everything he wanted.

His cute little pointer finger , a nodding or shaking head,  his smiles, his cries, his mischievous grins. He didn't need words.


But the time came when he did need words, and didn't have them. At least not English-sounding words.

One day when it was just the two of us in the kitchen, he wanted something, and  for the life of me, I couldn't figure out what it was. Pointing didn't work. Guessing was futile. None of the usual communication was helping me understand. He looked afraid that I'd never understand him.

Finally, in utter frustration, he yelled out, "Bootsanighee!"

I still didn't know what he meant, but it was so cute to hear a four-syllable "word" come out of a toddler's mouth.

And finally, we had a word that encapsulated  our mutual confusion, frustration, fear, anger, desperation, futility--all wrapped up in one single word from a 2-year-old.

Bootsanighee.  (Think of it as rhyming with Boots and McGee.)

That word became useful to me in times when I just can't understand a person, a situation, the way things are in the world.

A word that, 11 years after I first heard it,  became the name of this little quilt. Let me explain, and try to follow my stream-of-consciousness.

Back in November, I joined my first-ever online sew-along for a mystery quilt on a chat board. Bonnie Hunter (a celebrity quilter, author, and teacher) was inspired by the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, and I loved the colors. I love a challenge. I liked a lot of her scrappy quilts. I was in. Not sure what her final quilt would look like (hence, the term "mystery quilt"), but I dared to try.

Five weeks later would come the reveal of her quilt, which I couldn't keep pace with, but I set in. Chose my fabrics. Washed, ironed, measured, cut and sewed  them.  Actually MISCUT one whole section. How frustrating to spend all that time carefully measuring and cutting, sewing and dreaming of the beautiful piece that would one day adorn my sewing room wall.

But when Bonnie's "Grand Illusion" was revealed, I didn't care for it. Colors, yes, pattern, no. Too busy for this gal. It was just too much going on, and there were seemingly 100,000 pieces involved.

I put the pieces aside (my 300) until after Christmas. Then, not wanting to waste them, I began asking myself, 'What could I do with these  green, white and black units? What do they remind me of? Why do they look kind of familiar? Could I make a boy quilt with the black, green and white only? I need a boy quilt to send to Vickey's charity."  Questions, questions, questions.

Then came the epiphany.  

The colors, the checkerboard design--they look like the Minecraft Creeper!  He is the "bad guy" on the very popular video game for kids about age 6-13. 

I needed a close-up on my table .

Make a quilt after  a guy called Creeper? Would that be...creepy? Strangely comforting? Appropriate for a kid going through a hard time like extreme sickness, or separation from his family for his own protection? Would Creeper be something a kid would want to see in a quilt?

I asked my son, who said, "Yes. If a kid likes Minecraft, then he'd like that."  He clarified that Creeper is "bad" but not evil, not spooky, just able to destroy what you've crafted in your mine. He jumps out  when you least expect it. What has taken you hours to build, he explained, Creeper can destroy in seconds. But you go on.  The game's not over. You rebuild."

That conversation took place around January 10th when I had little motivation to make a quilt for a boy for a friend's charity. I was tired and uninspired.

But then came hard news, news that --oddly enough--gave me motivation.

The awful, dreadful, devastating news of the Annapolis mansion fire on January 19th that killed the owners, Don and Sandy Pyle, and four of their grandchildren.  There were two sets of cousins staying overnight because they had MLK day off school .
Top: Sandy and Don, Katie and her sister Lexie
Bottom: Wes & Charlotte  (source)

They had enjoyed dinner at Medieval Times, some shopping at Target, and then had come home to the grandparents' place--a 16,000 square foot house which neighbors dubbed "The Castle."

In the wee hours of Monday morning, a fire broke out, spread fast, and destroyed everything . All the people, all the possessions, and (I think) all the pets.

                                                                                      Source: Washington Post

How? Why? Who? Was this arson? Was it an accident? Where did it start? Why? Why? Why? I don't understand! I have no words! No one has words to express their shock, anger, confusion, fear, loss, grief.

Bootsanighee!  Nothing makes sense.

It's all so wrong. Precious lives gone in an instant.

(It was later discovered that the Christmas tree, still up since November, had caught fire from an apparently faulty electrical wire.  The tree was in the two-story living room, which was adjacent to the bedrooms.  That's a lot of oxygen and flammable material to fuel a fire. Everyone was asleep when it happened.) They all died of smoke inhalation.  In my heart I prayed that God kept everyone asleep and that they never knew what happened.

We'll never know. Never understand.

I read all six obituaries with tears in my eyes.  The grandfather loved sailing, golfing, traveling, and his grandkids most of all. The grandmother loved animals, traveling, decorating, and her grandkids most of all. I  read about what each child was remembered for.  One of the things that grabbed my attention was that Wes and Charlotte loved to play Minecraft, just like my son. My son has Minecraft posters in his room.  Did they? He has cut and painted cardboard to look like the swords. Did they? He tried to teach me one day how to play, but it gave me motion sickness. Bootsanighee. I don't understand how anyone can play this game and not get nauseated.

I wanted to make the quilt in memory of Wes & Charlotte.   I recalled what my son had said about a Creeper quilt. "Yes. If a kid likes Minecraft, then he'd like that.  ...He's  "bad" but not evil, not spooky, just determined to destroy what you've crafted in your mine. He jumps out  when you least expect it. What has taken you hours to build...Creeper can destroy in seconds. But you go on...."


I practiced free motion quilting to see if I could make it look good. I practiced making pick axe designs. My son kindly said, "Mom,  they need more work." I practiced writing the names of the
children who loved Minecraft.

I wondered how many times their mother has written their names with a shaky hand since January 19th.

My mind kept wandering....

Why did the home catch fire? I mean, yes, technically there's an answer, but it doesn't answer the raw, gut-wrenching, hair-pulling, teeth-clenching, heart-wailing cry , "Why my children? Why my mom? Why my dad?  Why couldn't it have caught fire while everyone was out? Why did they have to be there with no way of escape? Why???"

This quilt was harder to make than any I've made since my friend Renee's chemo quilt.
More tears, more prayers, more questions, more love than any quilt since hers.
More frustration in the construction.
More mistakes. Mistakes I tried to fix but couldn't.  Some things can't be undone.

Those children died after a short life of happiness, often spending their days and nights in that earthly mansion with people who loved them very much .Now they are spending eternity in their heavenly mansion that can never, will never, be destroyed. And they're with God, who loves them very much.

Don and Sandy. Katie and Lexie. Wes and Charlotte. You will not be forgotten.

Wes and Charlotte, I dedicate this quilt in your memory. It will be going to a charity called for Dolls for Very Sick Kids, which gives a doll (and now quilts with the dolls) to kids going through all kinds of trauma.  The woman, Vickey Stamps, who started the charity--and still makes every doll herself--has given away 212 dolls to date.  (She and I chat regularly online, so I know she's legit!)

I ended up quilting with my usual "stitch in the ditch" technique.

                                           Does the geometric green print look like castle windows to you, too?

Making this quilt has helped with my own grief at a time when I wanted words but had none. It has made me hold a little tighter to my kids and husband, aware that we , and all we've loved or worked for, could be gone in seconds.

Bootsanighee. I don't understand.

Rest in peace.