Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Gramma Photo, Part II

The second - and only other - picture of my gramma.

I'll write more about it later, since Murphy just went outside to pee and ended up rolling up in another dog's poop in our own backyard. Nice.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Photos of my Gramma!

Brenda came over last night and brought with her:

1. a wild 2-year-old in the midst of potty training, so she was running around my house sans underwear showing her butt (and more) to everyone here (by "her" I mean Vivian, my niece, not my sister, who has been potty trained for quite some time)


2. pictures of my Gramma!

Here is the first one:

I think I'll use this in my header somewhere.

Here's what I know about the picture:

Left to right, that's me, my sister Donna (now 36), my gramma (who was probably about 54 at the time), Brenda (now 35) is on her lap, and my cousin Roberta is at the end. My youngest cousin, Chad, was not there (maybe not born yet?). We're on the couch in the house on Dove Street in Dunkirk. I must be 4 years old in this picture, which makes it around 1975. That big picture above the couch is a LARGE, crushed-velvet picture of The Last Supper, which followed us from apartment to apartment for years (my mother asked me yesterday where that picture ended up; I don't know, but I think it's a good thing that no one knows). I remember the shoes I was wearing; they're dark blue canvas on the top. I also remember the orange barrettes in my hair.

That's all I got.

Ironically, I think this photo was originally in my album. My mom took it from me, and my sister Brenda (the fat baby in the photo above) had the foresight to take it before she left for college. I know that some people would consider that to be stealing, but in this case it goes to show you that there is no black or white, only shades of gray. Had she not taken this photo with her, it would have ended up lost, or my father would have destroyed it, or a cat would have peed on it, and a piece of my history would have been lost. I guess the moral of that story is that sometimes, theft is a good thing.

I haven't seen even a photo of my gramma in a long time. I wonder, now, what kind of person she was in that photo. Was she like me t all? What was her personality like then, as an adult? Was she an alcoholic, even then? (I think so). I'm going to look at it more to see what I can come up with.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Life Is Good

I have recently stumbled across the vast, talented community of women who generously share their talents and trade secrets over the Internet via their blogs. These women (I have not yet come across any male-authored blogs of this sort) tirelessly take photos, post tutorials, and offer encouragement for any number of projects one might be looking to complete (or, as is often the case with me, to start and leave, forlornly, somewhere in the dining room for several months, uncompleted. But that's another post). My latest find, and my favorite so far, is the blog Made. I was looking for instructions for how to make a child's dress out of a man's dress shirt for Kate, and this blog had that...and so much more. Dana, Made's mom, is creative and friendly and generous with her time and has so many projects I want to try that I'm worried I will begin neglecting my family in my pursuit of reconstructive sewing. Many of her projects are creative journeys of the recycled/reconstructed kind, which is even better than having to buy new fabric and such, since it's cheap and good for the planet.

So speaking of cheap, I do not like buying pajamas for Kate. If I don't really like spending money on clothes she wears on the outside of the house, where people can "ooh" and "aah" over her, imagine how much I dislike spending money on clothes she will only wear to bed. I get most of her pajamas from yard sales or consignment sales; lately, she's started wearing little-girl camisoles (more like t-shirts) and elasticized shorts to bed, because I found them at Walmart and they're comfortable and cheap. But when Kevin went through his dresser and came up with a whole pile of t-shirts for me to give to Goodwill, I couldn't bear to do it. T-shirts can be made into almost anything. Plus, one of them was a Life is Good t-shirt, which I'm pretty sure I bought for him just last Christmas but he said "fits weird." Life is Good t-shirts aren't cheap, and if I paid $20+ for the shirt, I'm going to get more wear out of it than six of seven months. I got to cut it up! They're heavy, quality cotton with cute graphics and they even have that small area of striped "lining" around the back of the neck. So I made Kate...

A t-shirt nightgown!

I am not organized enough to think about taking pictures while I'm doing something, step by step. I usually don't even remember to take before and after shots of the garment I'm altering, and that's definitely true in this case. But if you can picture a standard man's t-shirt, XL, that's what this was. And in a nutshell:

1. I traced one of her old jumper dresses onto the shirt (using a Sharpie) and left about 1/2" for seam allowances on each side.

2. I cut it out.

3. I sewed it up, wrong sides together, and turned it right side out. I didn't finish the seams.

4. I zig-zagged around the neck and arm holes, but this step is not really necessary, since jersey material will not ravel, as it just rolls up, so the seams don't have to be finished. But I like the look of it.

And that's it!

I big shout out to Kate, who seriously got about 10 mosquito bites while she stood outside on the deck so I could get photos of this last night right before it started to rain. She's a trooper. She said she even wants to wear it as a dress, not just as a nightgown, which I think is a cute idea. Plus, it's summer, so why does it matter?

And now we're all happy. What's more comfortable to sleep in than a worn t-shirt? Plus, it was almost free, it was easy to make, and it is cute. I have 6 or 7 more t-shirts in the dining room right now, waiting for my scissors. Let the refashioning continue!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Vacation Is Done

Of course, my husband is here to remind me that my vacation is not done, since I don't return to school until August 17th and I still have few weeks left of vacation. But our family vacation is over. I plan to write about it in the next couple days. In the meantime, I'm going to post a picture I took of Joseph on the boardwalk on the Jersey Shore:

My father-in-law once said that Joseph could test the patience of Jesus Christ himself. I don't remember why he said it or what the circumstances were at the time, but he didn't mean it in a nasty way, and besides, he's right. Even so, that picture is all Joseph in that it epitomizes how I love him even on days like today - especially days like today - when he's a real pisser who challenges every word that comes out of everyone's mouth and won't sit still long enough to slip on a flip flop.

Enough waxing rhapsodic about my son. I have a kitchen to paint. And I imagine there will be much more Joseph love on this blog in the future, anyway.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Ice Is Nice

I do not have a big sweet tooth. I don't normally have dessert; it's not a health-related thing, it's just that I don't normally have a taste for it, especially after I've had a full meal. But this place has changed the way I feel about sugar.

They recently built one in the same small shopping center that is home to Trader Joe's. That means I have reason to drive there quite frequently. And it is...yummy. They have about 20 different kinds of Italian Ice on tap all the time, which sometimes makes it difficult to choose. Plus, the last time I was there, I discovered their Gelati. No, not gelatto, Gelati. It's a layer of their custard ice cream (which is the smoothest and creamiest custard I've ever had, a layer of Italian Ice in the middle, and topped with another dallop of custard. It's heavenly. And it has put an end to the ever-present dilemma I face every time we go to other ice cream places: If I get ice cream, then a few bites into it I wish I had ordered something less rich and sweet because I want something more refreshing, and if I order something non-ice cream based then everyone else's ice cream starts to look really good and I regret my choice. But the Gelati is the best of both worlds.

When Kevin gets home from work in about 20 minutes, we're going to Rita's. What a start to the holiday weekend.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

White-Lie Wednesday

My Gramma Said: Liberally slathering baby oil onto your skin will prevent sunburn.

Yep, she really said that. Even back in 1976, the logic was clearly flawed: if you rubbed butter onto a turkey before roasting to make its skin brown and crispy, why would using a similar kind of greasy product on human skin have the opposite effect? Still, before we would head off to Community Park, we would basically hose off in baby oil. And Off insect repellent. Between the skin cancer I am sure to develop as the result of basting my skin in petroleum and the unknown other cancers I am sure to develop as the result of showering in toxic chemicals just to avoid a mosquito bite, I can't imagine this was the wisest course of action for a 5-year-old.

I know that many people did things like this back in the day, before the dangers of the sun and the lack of ozone and DEET were well-known among pedestrian summer lovers. gramma said she was a nurse. A genuine, certified R.N., to be exact. Never mind that in the entire time I knew her, she never worked in a hospital. Never worked at all, in fact. I heard volumes about her stint owning a John Deere dealership, about how she owned the Hotel restaurant/bar in Brocton (a story for another day) and about a host of other jobs she supposedly held. But I never heard a peep about her professional career as a nurse. At the time it didn't seem at all odd to me; she told us she had been a nurse, and she was the central figure in my life, and I trusted her implicitly, and that was that. Come to think of it, I don't remember when she actually told us she was a nurse. It was just a given, and we understood it to be the truth, forever.

Brenda and I have discussed this at length and can arrive at no solid conclusion. Was she ever a nurse? If not, why lie? If so, why wasn't she working as a nurse? Was there a big cover up of some sort? Regardless, the bigger question remains:

Why did a woman who said she was a Registered Nurse tell us to bake our bodies in baby oil? I think it was the poor man's sunscreen. Baby oil costs less than $2 a bottle and lasts forever. I have a bottle in my medicine cabinet right now that has been there for years; I don't even remember where I got it. Sunscreen, on the other hand, is way more expensive. And did they even have sunscreen in 1976? I don't know. My gramma probably thought she was doing something good for our skin by having us put something on it, rather than send us out into the open air with bare skin. She was trying. The R.N. thing...I have way fewer pat answers for that.

Some people lie awake at night wondering if Oswald acted alone on the grassy knoll. But I wonder about my gramma's supposed medical career. And I wonder why the facts are so skewed, and why I didn't think to question any of them until after I graduated from college, and what else was an exaggeration of the facts or a blatant fabrication of reality?

I bet I have enough for an amazing number of White-Lie Wednesday entries. I don't have deeply repressed memories of horrific events, but I do sometimes remember things that have remained dormant for years and years. The oddly-shaped mole on my shoulder reminded me of the baby oil thing. It sounds Freudian - I'm questioning my upbringing because of the shape of a mole - but there's a lot to think about.