Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Baby Gifts

In the months before the Grand Boy was born, my dear friend LC sorted through her quilt making pile and brought me a bag of pieces to chose from for the baby's quilt. I went to the fabric store here in the burg and got a piece of flannel for the backing, the batting stuff and some more material for squares to tie it all together.

I took all the material to France with me and then plotted out the pattern in MS Excel. I do not lie Ladies, that is the kind of Gal I am. The kind who plans the quilt on the computer. Unlike LC, who is a free form artist in quilting and painting, I need to move the squares around and do the math in the virtual world in order to think it out.

What with coming home early for Martha's funeral and all, I didn't get to the cutting out of the squares. So, a couple of weeks ago, LC and I used the table in her studio to do the cutting and laying out of the material.

Then we had to have a break with a cup of the fabulous toffee tea from Paris in LC's heirloom teacups and a bite of strawberry rhubarb galette while the dogs rolled around at our feet. (See Emerson rolling...)

The next day, LC, being the sewing machine ace driver that she is, whipped together the strips of the quilt while I was off to the material store for more batting, embroidery thread and the material for the border. The day after that, we got together to iron out the top, judiciously apply a little ric rac, cut the border and zip that on. Then we needed another cuppa tea and some hot cross buns I'd brought for focus maintenance.

I didn't buy any for the dogs. (See Luna pouting on the bed.)

A few days later, we brought the fabric layers down to my house. We laid the quilt out on my living room rug and made "the sandwich" of layers, as LC the Quilt Mistress called it, pinning everything together with diaper pins. I fed her dinner and we tied together the layers with embroidery thread while we watched "To Kill a Mockingbird".

Such a great movie, which I hadn't watched in a coon's age. Now the quilt will forever have Scout, Atticus, Jem, Calpurnia and Boo Radley woven into its fabric.

I fed LC dessert too, poached Bartlett pears smeared with good melted chocolate and a cup of fresh mint tea.

Then that Grand Boy was born.

You knew I was going to have to work a picture of him into this story didn't you? *Sigh*
I'm already jonesin' for another fix of holding that little head in my hand. *Sigh*

So, anyway, back at the quilt...
With the baby already at hand, we had to bring in the reinforcements, so we recruited my dear neighbor Ren. LC finessed the turning of the edging and the three of us whip stitched it down.

LC and Ren started working a blanket stitch around the edge while I made spaghetti and salad for our dinner and Miss C, my 9 year-old friend and Ren's daughter, whipped out 10 or so drawings to welcome the new baby into the world. (I only got a picture of one of the drawings. Miss C is a very talented artist already at 9 years.)

On my first visit with the Dear Daughter, the Dad and the Grand Baby Boy, I brought food to cook them dinner, a spring bouquet from the garden, the drawings from Miss C and the quilt.

Quilt: a blanket for the baby to lie on top of on the floor, the bed or in the park.
Yes, it is simply that.

But it is also an assemblage of the morning, afternoon and evening gatherings during which it was dreamed up, laid out, stitched on machine and by hand; the conversation and laughter of the women in the room; the devotion in the eyes of the dogs on the floor; the lessons of integrity and courage that "To Kill a Mockingbird" holds; the chatter of the girl drawing pictures in the next room.... There is a message of love and welcome in every variation in the loops of the blanket stitch, every nuance in the twists of the thread that three different women brought to the task of hand sewing this baby's blanket.

This is the small gift that we brought to the baby boy and this is just one of the gifts that the baby boy has brought to us so far.

Love to you and yours.

Monday, March 29, 2010

First Days

My first days with the Grand Boy, he'd only been on the outside two days is this photo.
We had beautiful Spring days for his arrival in SF.

The Dear Daughter bundled him into the baby wrap and we took him and
the Brooklyn Brown Dog out to Golden Gate Park for a walk in the redwood dell.

We met Dad in the rose garden for a little face time in the sunshine

and a game of Happy Family.

The DD even let me hold him a few times. Sweet!!!!

Love for now.
More soon.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Before and After

I spent Monday midday in Golden Gate Park with the very pregnant Dear Daughter enjoying one of those magic San Francisco Spring days, walking the Brooklyn Brown Dog, sitting on the grass in the sun. We went home for her nap and then I drove her to a favorite produce store to stock up on groceries. We stopped in at the Thai restaurant next door and had some spicy green papaya salad, vegetarian coconut soup, sticky rice and Thai ice teas.

It coulda been the spicy salad or the fact that she was 3 days past her due date... Tuesday AM at about 1230 the labor pains began and continued through the night and into the day. The new Mom and Dad checked in to the birthing center around 5 PM and Bébé Boy was born at 10:45 PM, Tuesday, March 23, weighing in at a healthy 8lbs 11oz.

He was "born in the caul", meaning with the amniotic sac still intact around his body, which has traditionally been considered a good omen and sign of good luck. We, of course, are already sure that he is extraordinary.

He was back home in SF with the happy parents by 3 am this morning and slept until 8:00 am or so, another good sign we think.

He hasn't chosen his name yet. I get to meet him tomorrow. Maybe he will whisper it in my ear.

Love to you and thanks for holding watch with me.

x0 N2

Friday, March 19, 2010

A Waiting

"Waiting for the fish to bite or
waiting for wind to fly a kite. Or
waiting around for Friday night..." Theodore Geisel

Tomorrow is the medical folk's predicted date for Bébé's birth day. The Dear Daughter and the Daddy have been rearranging the nest, applying some spit shine, adding a twig here and a feather there. The nascent Nana (that'll be Me =o), even stopped by last week to do some scrub-a-dub-dubbing, dusting and rubbing. We've been sorting and piling the baby clothes cuteness. Things at the New Baby House are purt near ready.

A few weeks ago, the Mom and Dad 2B thought it over and hypothesized that a good day for a baby would be a Wednesday, March the 24th. My money's on that new mother's intuition. Afterall, her feelings are coming from the inside out. Even so, starting tomorrow we are on Baby Watch.

I have been given the honor of managing the phone tree once the labor begins. I had to be strapped to a cell phone for work for many years and consquently am a bit of a luddite at home. I get a hard time from the younger set, but have avoided having a cell phone for the last few years.

This morning I dreamed that I was on a plane that was landing in the snow in the Andes. I was supposed to be monitoring things from my seat in the back, maybe helping organize the passengers, relaying instructions from the pilots (there were four or five in the cockpit). I stayed calmly in my seat, assessing the situation, not making a move.

The landing was complex, but the pilots always had things under control and the touchdown was very safe and smooth. Even so, some of the people from the cockpit were disappointed that I had not followed their suggestions and wanted me to explain myself. I woke up with a responsibility hangover feeling as if I'd left something important undone.

So, today I finally drove down to the next sizable town here, Santa Rosa, and signed up for cell phone service so that I will be reachable no matter where I am once labor begins, and I am planning on being close at hand. I'm taking my responsibilities as the labor and delivery contact very seriously.

The sun shines, the wind blows, the seeds sprout, the flowers bloom, day turns to night again and I am waiting. Waiting for the other shoe to drop, for next week to come, for the phone to ring, to see who this Bébé is, for this new loving to begin.

"and I am perpetually awaiting
a rebirth of wonder"
Lawrence Ferlinghetti

Sending love your way.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Ready to Pop

Spring is bustin' out all over.

Wondering whether the purple iris's will bloom before the Dear Daughter gives birth...

The doctor's predicted due date is This Friday - Mar 19!!!
The anticipation...
xoxo N2

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Baby Bumpers

I have been standing for these last weeks on one of life's ridges, with one foot resting on the side of the passing of life and the other on that of the life that is coming. Martha has left us and the new bébé will arrive around Mar 24 we are predicting, though the full moon is not until the 30th, and we mothers know how Our Lady the Full Moon can influence a baby's progress into our world.

My dear friend LC and I started work on our gift of bumpers for the baby's cradle as soon as I got back from the trip to Missouri. I picked up the flannel, batting and thread at the fabric store here in town and spent the afternoon up at LC's. I did the measuring and cutting, she sewed the seams, I laid in the batting.

The flannel was cushy soft to touch, yellow soft of color and a comfort to work with. It has a print of tiny elephants, octopuses, whales, cats, teddy bears, suns, moons - all smiling - alphabet letters and many other things which I think will be fun for bébé to look at while lying abed.

Our little yellow flannel baby bumpers took another day of work hand tying over tea by LC and I. Then I spent the evening blind hemming the ends and sewing on grosgrain ribbon ties while watching a charming old Greer Garson movie. My friend and neighbor Ren came over to help me finish up with the ribbon ties and hemming while we listened to Raahhdio Brasil.

These small rituals of shaping and sewing soft cloth for the coming bébé helped start the soothing of the ragged edges of loss.

Last Sunday, D&A threw a party to draw together friends and family for a bébé welcoming party. It was held at the apartment in San Francisco where they are living and where both D and her brother were born - right there in the front bedroom.

It was a life affirming gathering of D & A's family and friends, of people from three generations and many stages in their lives and mine.

A dear friend of D's is also expecting and her baby is due in May. Those little ones are already in touch, communicating with each other belly to belly.

Love and baby bumps to all of you!
x0x0 N2

The Little Things

I was looking for decorations that weren't too tacky for the Daughter's Baby Party and I passed the rack of cards at the Dollar Store, where they have perfectly good cards, two for $1. I started for the Easter card selection, thinking I'd get one to mail to my sister Martha. She loves getting...
And then I stopped myself, you know how you do if you've lost someone to death, even the death of a friendship or love relationship... I won't be doing that anymore. I can't send Martha a card, that she will receive where she is now, anyway.

My Mom has been gone just past twelve years now and I still catch myself, when I come back to town from traveling, thinking about visiting her at the house that she rented within walking distance from mine for her last nine years.

Shortly after Martha passed, I spent an afternoon and evening sorting through her picture albums and a suitcase of her treasures with my sisters Sue and Cindy. We worked and talked around the table on the patio until it got too dark to see what we were doing. We gave it up for the day and went to dinner at a restaurant where Martha and I used to go.

Among the jumble contained in the suitcase were little things that Martha used to have on a knick knack shelf in her room. I took a few of those for momentos -- a tiny blue bird figure that reminded me of the glass "blue bird of happiness" that used to sit in my Mom's front window, a couple of miniature owls, two blown glass dachshunds that I remember being in my parent's whatnot cabinet in every dining room of every house in which we lived, a mini RCA tin containing needles to an old windup record player Mom gave away when we moved back from England when I was twelve, a letter N sealing wax stamp that caught my father's fancy decades ago in Williamsburg.

I gave the owls to the Son and Daughter-in-Law. The other little things sit here and there on my window sills, catching the light, spilling colors from my past.

Wishing you sweet memories, my Dears.
x0 N2

Friday, March 5, 2010

Hands On

Off to the Missouri mid lands for my sister Martha's funeral.

My dear friend Penelope helped me put together a little pamphlet for the memorial service.

There were two services going on at the funeral home that day, the old fashioned mid American send off and the hands-on, heart felt family tribute. We were the latter party.

The funeral director that we dealt with was very helpful and caring. He seemed curious about our alternative approach to honoring our dead sister and genuinely touched by our simple memorial service lead by a few words from our oldest brother and then followed by memories and thoughts from the family and friends who had gathered to honor Martha.

A friend in The Scrambled Eggs, my wonderful writing group back in CA, sent out this picture as a prompt which brought up the following piece from me about the funeral.


The soul is still in the body until it is laid in the ground. Unless we wash and oil and wrap the body, the soul will be trapped, will not leave, will not rest, my sister says. I am skeptical: her dead body is an empty vessel. How can it matter now?

We five women, sisters and friends, gather in the salon just behind the funeral chapel where the memorial service will take place. The others begin tenderly washing the body of my sister, now two weeks dead, as I stand to the side, still a little in shock at my first sight of the body. Her left hand is blue with frozen blood; her vacant eyes, lids stained purple rose and thankfully closed.

Her wavy red hair, streaked with silver, is clean and shiny. I touch the tips of the fine, soft strands streaming out above her head on the gurney where she lays, a waxen mound of clay, unmoving under the cold, wet cloth wiping her shoulder, her arm, her leg.

We anoint the body with rose oil, on the forehead, the eyes, the lips, hands and feet, over her heart. We help the two nurses among us roll and gently lift her onto a draw sheet so that we can more easily move her over on top of the pure white muslin shroud laid out on a parallel table. We remove her worn, blue hospital gown, keeping her center covered with white towels.

We slide her across in one go. Then lift her head and slip it through the neck opening in the plain chemise. We wrap layers of the thin cloth around her, which just meet, at the center of her large, rounded stomach. We tie the layers in place with strips of muslin at her ankles and waist. My sister tucks her hair into a white kerchief. I slip the pack of Skip-Bo cards that we used to play our last game behind the lopsided bow at her middle.

Once she is securely swaddled, her face seems to relax, her body to lighten. Our group of women stands around her head, our clasped hands surrounding the stilled face of my youngest sister, encircling her one last time.

After our family memorial service, as we walk with the simple blue coffin through the cemetery to the gravesite, I feel the bloodless hands of unquiet souls reaching out toward us, longing for a last loving touch.

Hugs from CA.

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