Friday, December 12, 2014

Now You've Got My Attention

Typing up a letter tonight from Mom to Dad.  Excerpt:

I got your letter with the story about the cow.  You've had your share of adventures!

Well, now, I think I'll be shifting over to Dad's letters for a bit to find out what's up with this cow business.  I'll keep you posted!

In other news, my childhood home is no longer ours.

I try not to be too emotional about these things because, let's face it, if I did I'd never be able to get out of bed in the morning.  Leading up to today I had very calmly told myself that "it's just an house" and that "it's the memories that matter."  And then at 9:00 this morning, my brother posted this photo online and I sat at my desk and cried.  

I've become quite an accomplished weeper in the office.  I used to hate to cry in public, but over the past few years I've been able to hone the craft.  Usually I need anywhere from 1-5 minutes to let tears flow, hyperventilate a little, and just.  be.  sad.  I have stopped retreating to the bathroom.  I decided, if someone walks in, whatever.  But anyway, no one ever has.

My parents bought this house in 1976 (or 1977.  It happened before I was born so it barely counts).  I'm too tired to do math right now, but my parents lived there for 30-something years.  Raised 3 kids in it.  Put an addition on.  Painted it 3 different colors.  Mowed the lawn.  Shoveled the driveway.  Sat on the deck.  Buried 3 cats in the backyard.  Thinking of what the time lapse of the life of us in this house would look like takes my breath away.  It was where everything happened.  Birthdays, Christmases, pictures before prom and the first days of school, games of Pictionary, football or basketball in the yard, movie nights, the cellar that flooded repeatedly.  People bringing their pants, skirts and jackets to be hemmed by my mom.  Guys from the band coming by to help Dad pack up for gigs.  The friends of my brothers that I had huge crushes on.

It's just a house.  But it was our house. So I took a moment this morning.  And I guess I'm taking another one now.  A moment to appreciate this house, to mourn its passing out of our family, to hope that the new owners will find as many happy memories and cherish this house as ours did.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Art of Richard Thompson

The company I work for (when I'm not on maternity leave) released a new short film today, titled The Art of Richard Thompson

It's a profile of sorts of a local cartoonist - a guy thought of as the "cartoonist's cartoonist."  It seems like either you have no idea who he is or you loooove him and his work.  6 months ago I was the former, but now I belong in the latter group.  The guy is so smart it's scary.  He has changed the way I look at cartoons - not just strips but magazine illustrations, caricatures, all of it.  I always knew drawing is something that I cannot do (it has become abundantly clear when trying to color with the Rupper) but I completely took for granted how brilliant it can be.  Anyway, take a look if you've got a minute or two or twenty.  Maybe it can change your view as well.

Also, obvi, I sewed.  I'm on a serious roll here.  Here's what I did today:

Another quilt using my favorite pattern.  Looking good.  This is a pieces of candy quilt - the turtles and the frog/paisley fabrics come from my mom's stash.  They look real swell.

I finally finished the snow men quilt!  This is also straight out of pieces of candy.  It's sat idle for a while.  But now it's done and ready to have someone snuggle underneath it.  Yay!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Last Full Week of Maternity Leave

Sigh.  It's the last full week of my maternity leave.  Oh, what I wouldn't give to have another month to look forward to.  Not only because Baby E is becoming less larval everyday, but she's also settling into a delightful nap schedule which has allowed me to do all the laundry, dishes and tidying I need AND do things like sew and exercise.  Which makes my heart very happy.  But on the bright side, I did get a lot of things done around here that I'd hoped to.  Setting goals when dealing with a newborn is a dangerous thing.  The whole cliche thing of moms not being able to shower, brush their teeth, or feed themselves?  Totally and utterly true.  It's really amazing to go from a fully (mostly?) functional human being to a person who is just happy if she's got clean underwear on.

Anyway, on to today's sewing:

This is the 4th or 5th time I've used this pattern.  I keep going back to it because I love it.  You get lots of different fabrics, the rectangles aren't supposed to match up so you don't have to sweat lining corners up, basically it doesn't take a lot of brainpower and it's virtually impossible to screw it up.  Which is very important when every moment counts and the last thing I want to do is have to re-do something.

Friday, November 14, 2014


I SEWED.  I hoisted my sewing machine up on to the table, I threaded the needle, and I SEWED.  This is a moment almost three months in the making.  Even before Baby E was born (oh, right, I also gave birth.  Somehow that seems like less of a big deal.  Cuz, you know, that had to happen.  This was effort), I had to put away my sewing machine due to the kitchen construction taking over the rest of the house and my thoughts and energy.  But the kitchen is put back together at long last, Baby E is mercifully beginning to settle into a nap schedule so today was the day.  I SEWED.  Oh if only I didn't have to go back to work in 2 weeks.  Stupid mortgage and desired to buy food and things.

And speaking of the kitchen, there's this:

 Kitchen: done.  Ish.  Mostly.  Enough for me.  Please enjoy this fancy panoramic, complete with plastic bags strewn on the floor and boxes and milk crates shoved in the corner.  Martha Stewart, I am not.  But this is about as neat and tidy as this room is ever going to be.  I love it.  I love it love it.  Needs stools (oh and to pass inspection but that's another matter and it don't have anything to do with functionality of the space).  And new windows are on the way for the whole house.  Dude, I'm such a grown up.

And, just for cuteness, Baby E:

Complete with velour purple pants.  Girl clothes are every bit as fun as I thought they would be.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Nov. 28, 1969

As mentioned, it's been a busy month.  But as I sat here, while CavanaghSpawn2.0 slumbers peacefully in her bouncy chair, I thought - Hey why don't I type up one of Mom's letters?  And I'm so glad I did.  This one really tickled me.  I'm going to share the whole, because I think it's so wonderful.  In just a few paragraphs, she shows how she's so innocent - new discoveries about the postal system, cataloging wedding gifts - yet enduring so much as a 21 year old new wife worrying about her husband a million miles away.  And I love love love the postscript.  Side note, I have no idea who Mrs. Giarla, the Petersons, or the Cyrs are.

Nov. 28, 1969

Dear Dick,
    I found out that I don’t have to use air mail stamps.  I’m only paying postage from Salinas to San Francisco.  The rest of the way it goes military.  I may try the same experiment your mom did.
    I got found pieces of silver with the monty the Petersons gave us tonight - a serving fork, a table spoon, a gravy ladle, and sugar spoon.  It came to $81.  I’m sure you can’t get excited about it, but it is nice.
    We also got another wedding gift in the mail - a set of butter dish, salt and pepper shakers, and a bowl - of stainless.  It’s from the Cyrs.  Very nice.
    You know, I just can’t comprehend that you really are so far away.  I think it’s because of last year when you were at Benning and Ord.  I must still think of it in that way.  But Mrs. Giarla was right when she said it would be different.  I miss you more - physically - than I ever did before.  But then I feel that you are here with me - or within me.  I’ve mentioned that.  It’s like something bottled up inside me - sometimes I just want to yell…
    Goodnight my dear sweetie-pie.  Be safe.  I love you very much.
P.S. Why don’t you address my letters to Mrs. R.H.Ray?

Some old photos.

**Note - the photos below are from a while ago - like a month I think.  A lot has changed - kitchen and human being wise.  More on that later.

Friday, September 05, 2014

Another Kitchen Update and a Dinosaur

Due date rapidly approaching... kitchen taking shape... Not much commentary today.

Etsy request for a dinosaur pattern...

Thursday, September 04, 2014

So Long, Old Friend

Today we said good-bye to the huge column in the middle of the new kitchen space.  Actual progress!  Still feels like the end is a very long ways away. but this is something at least.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Kitchen Continued

More kitchen fun.  But now we have a floor and a frame for a closet.  So that's not nothing.

 After much prodding, I have been assured that they "should" be able to finish up by September 14.  How that could possibly be possible, I have no idea.  But the term "cruising" was thrown out there, as in from this point on the crew will be "cruising."  I think just showing up everyday might be a nice start.  I'm hoping that in 3 weeks, this frustration will all be a distant memory and CavanaghSpawn2.0 will be coming home to a functional household. I just need to figure out who can give us a ride.

In other news, we took another trip to the farm.  The weather was rainy most of Saturday and on Sunday I woke up with some horrible allergies, but I did get a few pics of the Rupper and his BFF Louis.

Work it.

Friday, August 22, 2014

More Kitchen Fun

Some updated photos of the very slow construction process:

First batch:

Second batch (from this morning):

The main things I see done is that they've built out the back wall to even that out, ripped out some of the wall presumably to extend the plumbing to the corner, started the framing of building up the floor in the back, and (not pictured) ripped out the ceiling in the back in an effort to even out that space between the existing kitchen and the back.

I've given up the dream that this project will be anywhere near done by the time CavanaghSpawn2.0 arrives in early September (2.5 weeks.. tick tick tick).  Perhaps I will be pleasantly surprised?  I highly doubt it.  3 days ago I informed the project manager and his boss that they will need to suspend work when she arrives.  No word back.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

On-truck-chin - Day 2

The construction crew graciously decided to come back today after being absent Friday and Monday.  4 weeks and counting.  Tick, tick, tick.  I knew that this had potential to be a bad idea, let's hope it doesn't completely make me insane.  I wonder, are all contractors like this?  Did I get fooled into thinking that these guys would be different?  The lack of communication is staggering.  Messages unreturned, promises unfulfilled.  I'm sure I will love everything in the end and will be happy, but in the meantime having my living room overrun with appliances and just hoping beyond hope that CavanaghSpawn2.0 stays put til she's supposed to is driving me a bit mad.  Anyway.  Photos.

Good bye, sink.  We'll miss you the most.

No more dish nook.  Soon that whole wall should be gone.

No more weird wooden wall.  And more important, the world's grossest carpet is up!

View through the look through - all the way to the back wall.

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Catching up Stateside and Kitchen Renovation Day 1

The first few weeks that my dad was in Vietnam, it turns out, he was in kind of a military limbo.  He didn't know where he was going to be assigned and couldn't give my mom any kind of "permanent" address.  That in and of itself wasn't particularly interesting, except that it meant that the first dozen or so letters are kind of like ships passing in the night.  Mom received letters from Dad, but she had to wait to send hers to him.  I was kind of amazed how much was written about finances - what money Dad was sending home, how she was meant to cover bills and what would go to savings and that she should let him know if she found she needed more.  Just one of those little insights into how a couple works.  When I was growing up, money was never an issue between them, at least not that I ever saw.  So it's kind of interesting to see the foundation of that trust and communication being laid between them as newlyweds.  In some ways I find it sort of intimate.  

And then there was this (from Mom to Dad):

I was checking the ‘69 calendar.  It seems I’m a bit overdue for the World series.  Only 4 days since I should have had one if I were still on the pills.  I’m saying that my system is used to being off of the pills, I feel symptoms of a “series” - it’s just a matter of waiting for it to show up.  Wouldn’t it be too much if?  That we don’t need at a time like this.  I’ll keep you posted. 

If you only had to read that once, then good for you.  I had to read it 3 or 4 times,  so very confused and all the while figuring the math and think that the World Series would have been well over by the time this letter was written on November 16.  But then it dawned on me.  Yes, it would have been too much, and definitely not what they needed.  Spoiler alert: she wasn't pregnant.

But it's just one of those things I'd love to ask her.  What was that like?  What was it like to be sitting there for 4 days, thinking that you could possibly be pregnant, your husband a million miles away and the future so uncertain.  At a time when minutes probably dragged by already, they must have become glacial.    

In other, more modern news, kitchen construction is underway here in the EFPN (Eventually Fashionable Petworth Neighborhood). 

The first two pics are from when we first moved in.  Just for reference.
I didn't get my act together to snap any photos this morning.
Just a little different.

There's no going back now.

This room is so gross.  The carpet needs to be burned.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

And now for something a little different...

The whole crafting thing has taken a bit of a backseat to life in general these days.  Growing a new human while caring for an existing small human, planning house renovations, trying to sort out getting my parents' house sold, while fitting in time for husband, friends and fun does not leave a lot of time and energy for much else.  There's been some dabbling in craftiness, but largely free moments are spent on the couch playing iPhone games.


But there is this.  I've taken on a project that is going to take a crap load of time, but I find so fascinating.  In cleaning out my parents' house, I have become the custodian of all of the letters that were written between my mother and father from November 1969 through October 1970, when my dad was doing his tour of duty in Vietnam.  

My parents were 22 when he left.  They had been married just 5 months.  I find this unfathomable.  And yet they endured it.  Reading and typing these letters reminds me of the e-mails I used to write to my high school boyfriend (a year younger than me in school) who was back in the Seacoast of New Hampshire while I spent my freshman year in Williamsburg, VA.  Moaning and groaning about how hard it was, how much I missed him and counted the moments until we were together again.  Christ, what a wuss I was. 

Dad's time spent in Vietnam was never a secret, and it never seemed to trouble him much the way you hear about other Vietnam Vets being really negatively affected by the war.  But the details of that time were not spoken of often - or perhaps I was so self-centered I never bothered to pay attention to them.  I'm learning so much about his experience that I never knew before and while I don't think there's any possible way I could have had more respect for my father or my mother, I'm really glad to be able to see what this time in their lives was like.

It's very strange to think of my folks as people in their young 20's, completely unaware of the life that is to come ahead of them.  The children, the house, the careers, the grandchildren, the cancer.  It's all looming out there in front of them and they don't even know it.  Wild stuff.  Anyway, I thought it would be fun to share some excerpts from the letters.  Hopefully nothing that will betray the personal nature of what is written in them, but maybe some fun little nuggets and my thoughts about them.

So I'll leave you with the last paragraph of the first letter my dad wrote from Vietnam.  After relating  his journey over there and his initial impressions of the country he writes, "Well, Bub, that’s about all I can think of to tell you right now."  Before October 2010, I had never heard my dad call my mom "Bub," nor did I know he ever had.  But there was something about her getting sick, about their relationship coming full circle, that made him pick the nickname back up again.  I don't know where it came from or why he started calling her that so many years ago, but he began again after her diagnosis and lovingly referred to her as "Bub" even as she lays in hospice.  Seeing it there in print was incredible for me.

Well, Bub, that’s about all I can think of to tell you right now.  I think of you quite often, but I can honestly say that I don’t have that sick feeling of missing you.  And I’m really pretty glad.  I’ve got enough things over here to make life unpleasant without that. Maybe it means that my love for you has matured out of some previous adolescent form.  All I can say is I hope it keeps up, because it will make things a heck of a lot easier all around.  I’m sort of in a dream right now, things have been happening so fast.  I still don’t realize that I’m in Vietnam, half-way around the world.  I love you more than ever before, Bub.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

All Pinned Up

I've had this snowman top in my possession for almost three years now.  It's a part of the pieces of Candy collection, one of the last almost completed projects she left behind.  All I had to do was add buttons to the snowmen (eyes, noses, smiles), quilt it, bind it.  Apparently, easier said than done.  But here was are, one step closer.  I have no idea how I am going to go about quilting it, maybe that's been what has put me off.  We shall see.

The truth is, there has not been much crafting going on over the past few weeks.  I am the circle of life embodied.  And either side you look at is tiring enough, but birth and death happening at once is downright exhausting.  Nausea, heartburn, trying to keep up with a two year old on one hand... hospice, funeral arrangements and trying to keep up with a two year old on the other.

My uncle had a good line.
"It's like someone telling you that the Atlantic Ocean isn't there anymore."
Pretty much sums it up.

Sunday, February 02, 2014

I'm Being Too Hard On Myself, Right?

Unless the answer is yes, don't answer that.  I love the idea of sewing up a million pairs of soft baby shoes.  But every time I give it a go, I find myself so incredible frustrated.  They come out all lumpy and bunchy.  The picture on the tutorial!  It looks so perfect!  Sewing round edges is such a pain in the ass and it seems like I can never seem to get them to lay right.  And it's not like you can get in there and iron out any little imperfections.  Sigh.  Try, try again, I guess.