September 22, 2008

Tonight, We Celebrate

Will you raise a glass with me tonight?
Today I was at the adoption of two little girls, there to give it my blessing. My blessing is largely a formality by the day of the hearing, but a great job to have none the less.  Every adoption is special, and its a privilege to have a front row seat.  At this adoption, though, I was not only honored to tell the court I supported the adoption, I was proud.  

Today quite simply would not have happened without my colleagues and I.  It was a hard fought adoption, two years of slogging through a bureaucratic maze that often elevated form over substance and defended incomprehensible delays.  I held that file in my hand for the last time today and thought about the hundreds of phone calls, the tense meetings, the Motions to Compel.  I thought of all the days I fought not to  raise my voice as I listened to yet another excuse, and the days that I lost that battle.  I thought of all the court hearings I left wishing for an aspirin, but instead sitting down to explain to a bewildered adoptive mother why we still didn't have an adoption date and what I was going to do next.  Two years.

Today, it was all smiles and high fives.  Tears from the grandmother, now the mother of the girls she's raised since birth.  The 13 year old telling the Judge that, yes, she wanted the woman who has always been her Mom, to be Mom.  The 5 year old hiding her face in the stuffed giraffe I gave her and then peeking around it to see the Judge declare they were now mother and daughter.  High fives with my colleague and the case manager.

And as I held that file for the last time, I thought about all of that and it was worth every headache, every minute.  Every bit of it.  We couldn't make it work like it was supposed to, but in the end we made it work.  So tonight we raise a glass to the new family of three.

September 15, 2008

Ashley's Quilt

Our friends' recently started a family with the adoption of little Ashley. Naturally, such a long-awaited and wonderful occasion requires the proper amount of celebration and fuss. This is Ashley's Quilt. Cotton and Minke rectangles on the front, flannel backing, embroidery thread ties - I wanted this to be a tactile quilt - and high loft batting turned this in to a cuddly comforter. I'm very pleased with my girly but modern color choices, since Mom and Dad have to look at it, too.

The front was pieced entirely out of my stash, a first for me, and a shortage of the pink fabric inspired this block. I think it might be my favorite part of the quilt.

Here it is all packaged up for Alex to deliver this evening. I used scraps from the quilt haphazardly sewn to the front of card stock to make the card, which contains the care instructions. (I saw this brilliant idea in a tutorial somewhere on the internet just recently. Naturally, I can't find it again.) The whole thing makes a cute little package that I'm happy sending to the new parents.

Wet and Muddy

It was a dark and stormy night...

Some nights you can't get that infamous line out of your head. Just this morning, I was thinking it was worthy of a post to tell you there is not a storm out in the tropics trying to drown us. I apparently forgot just where it is we live. We do not need a tropical storm to get a thunderstorm big enough to turn our streets in to creeks.

All this rain has turned our parks in to mud, too. Sunday I decided that I just had to get out in to nature for a bit. Between the soggy weather and a cold-turned-sinus-infection it had been weeks since I'd done anything more than pull dead plants out of my garden. Gwen was my reluctant partner in the adventure.
As soon as we entered the park, she got suspicious. "Mom, that water looks alot closer to the footbridge than usual. Are you sure about this?"

And she was right. Our normally lazy little creek was more of a stream with a definitive current.

The path, naturally, was mud. She managed to ford it without too much fuss, though.

Eventually, she was simply resigned to her fate. After an hour of my insisting that we cross through mud patches, she gave up and accepted that she would be wet and muddy. Just look at her standing there in the mud! I might turn her in to a real dog one of these days after all.

I came home with mud splattered up to my knees, scratches on my hands and a grin on my face. I needed that adventure in the real world, and I'm so glad we went. It might just be enough to get me through another rainy week.

September 11, 2008


All day today I have had a nagging sensation at the edges of my awareness, the sensation you have when you know you've forgotten something. Only, it's what I'm remembering there around the edges of the business of the day that is bothering me. This is September 11th.

The fact that it has been 7 years since that September 11th does nothing to change the fact that it seems strange, somehow, that the world should go on as usual on this day. And yet, it has been 7 years and I realized today that I'm starting to forget. Not that the date September 11th will ever again be unremarkable; it still gives me a seconds pause any time I use it. Nor can I at all forget the horror of that day, though I know it in fact felt more surreal on that day than it did in the days that followed. I remember an elementary school assignment to ask a grandparent or elder where they were when they hear Pearl Harbor had been bombed, and I remember that my grandmother could immediately and definitively tell me she'd been in the dining hall. There is no question I will be able to tell my grandchildren with that same certainty where I was when I learned a plane had crashed in to the World Trade Center.

I was standing in the middle of my basement apartment in D.C. with my morning coffee. My Tax class had been canceled, and I'd turned on the morning news later than usual. The first footage I saw was the Pentagon engulfed in flames, and for a second I thought it was a movie, and a strange movie to be playing so early in the day. I still remember very clearly the feeling of my stomach tightening as I grasped that this was reality, watching the footage change to that of the World Trade Center.

That moment will always be crystal clear, as will others. But, even the pieces I remember so clearly I find I can't quite put in order. Others, I'm sure I've forgotten. Somehow, I thought I'd always remember it all, though I know the mind doesn't work that way.

I remember calling home to reassure my family and that Dad was home alone. He hadn't yet heard of the attacks. But, was that before or after they located the final plane, the one the passengers crashed in to a field? I think it must have been before. I remember clearly how much that missing plane scared me, and that I stayed inside until it went down. They believed the goal might be to bring that plane to the capitol, and I was living only 10 blocks from the capitol. I remember reassuring Dad that my basement apartment was the safest place I could be, protected by all those bricks and under the ground.

It must have been later when I sat on my steps, with my neighbors, and watched the parade of cars evacuating the Hill - using both sides of Pennsylvania Avenue in a mass exodus. Actually, I guess the word would be evacuation. But, it couldn't have been too much later, could it? I remember my landlady, a federal employee at the Department of the Interior, was able to find a way home by mid-day. But, she praised her cab driver for finding a way to get her home through the maze of re-routed streets, so maybe it was much later.

I know I went back out many times during the day. I took a picture of the sun setting behind the Capitol building, flag flying atop, which somehow felt symbolic to me. I don't actually remember the constant noise of the helicopters and planes (presumably military), but I remember telling others about it weeks later and how in that moment it fit.

At some point, I walked to church and sat talking with my friends in hushed tones. Breathing a sigh of relief each time a new member who was traveling or working at the Pentagon was reported safe, but not really feeling strongly about any of it. This, then, was when I had reached the point that it was all surreal. I even remember briefly discussing whether we were crazy to be gathering even closer to the most likely targets and deciding we needed to be at church regardless. That must have been in the afternoon, because I remember that we sat out on the steps. We needed the fresh air and the sun.

I know I was scared for Kayla, who was still a flight attendant for United that year, and that at some point early in the day I learned she wasn't flying that day. Was I able to talk to her or to one of the girls? I remember it was difficult to get a phone line that day. I must have talked to my family again, to Alex. I don't remember it.

Life does, in fact, go back to normal, and the memories do start to fade. But, I suspect this day will always be different, that there will always be the nagging sensation at the edge of it.

I've always hesitated to write about September 11th. So many have written about it more eloquently than I ever could, and others from a much more powerful point of view. Today I decided to write, because I'm starting to forget and I want to remember. This post is for me.

September 01, 2008

Dabbling in the Arts

I tend to dabble in fabric and yarn, and I've wondered sometimes if that fact will keep me an 'advanced beginner' forever. If I became a Knitter, with a capital K, would I be able to develop the skill for the patterns I envy? Or at least finish a project, any project, in under six months? Would I learn to match my points or have even stitches, if I settled on being a quilter? Does my fear of making up (or even altering) a clothing pattern stem from the fact that I only sew when I'm not quilting, knitting or embroidering?

Probably. If I found the art I couldn't put down, sheer practice would improve my results. But, the last few weeks, when I've been a bit out of sorts, my propensity for dabbling has worked out well for me.
I felt like designing, and so I designed this baby quilt. It is small and simple - a one night project really. But, when my sewing machine and my gimpy leg balked at playing nicely together, I just left it there on the table to be pieced one seam at a time. When and if I feel like it.
Wandering Flamingoes is hanging out on the quilt rack in the living room, so when Olympics watching or my mood has called for the repetitive task of stitching in the ditch there it is. Since this is intended as a Christmas gift, its probably good that real progress has been made even if only for ten minutes at a time.
And then there's my knitting - the project that I find in my hands the most. I've reached the half way point. I'm surprised by how quickly its moving along, but its been a pure pleasure. As long as I'm in the mood. When I'm not, it goes back in the knitting bag and I'm grateful it's not needed until April.
Sometimes nothing will satisfy, and then I take my cue from Gwen. I curl up to dream, to read or to plan. And I'm learning to appreciate the value in that, too.